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Surgical systems

Sick Kids to create pediatric surgical robot

TORONTO – Southern Ontario will strengthen its position as a leading centre for medical research and see new jobs created with the development of the KidsArm robotic surgical system, the first pediatric technology of its kind in the world.

The Honourable Gary Goodyear, Minister of State for Science and Technology and for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario), announced a $10 million investment from Canada’s Economic Action Plan at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) in Toronto.

The Centre for Image-Guided Innovation & Therapeutic Intervention (CIGITI), SickKids’ cutting-edge medical, engineering and research centre, will develop KidsArm in partnership with MDA, Philips and other companies.

KidsArm is an image-guided medical robot designed for paediatric patients, which enables surgeons to safely and efficiently perform less invasive surgical procedures and cut down the average time of procedures by up to 90 percent.

“At SickKids we encourage innovations that translate knowledge from the lab into clinical practice,” said Mary Jo Haddad, President and CEO of SickKids. “This project is a prime example of how research and technology can be transformed into clinical applications, which lead to improved health outcomes for our children.”

“The mission of our Centre is to imagine, innovate and provide health care differently from today,” said Dr. Peter C. W. Kim, Director of CIGITI, Paediatric General Surgeon and Senior Associate Scientist in Developmental & Stem Cell Biology at SickKids, and Professor of Surgery at the University of Toronto.

“With this critical and timely investment from the federal government, we plan to develop the next generation of surgical robots, medical imaging and simulation technologies for the care of children and babies. This investment will help transform healthcare and education through innovative technology development while building intellectual capability and economic capacity in Ontario and in Canada.”

Funding for this project will come from the Southern Ontario Development Program and will go towards purchasing the core foundation equipment that will be adapted for KidsArm. This project is expected to create more than 80 research, engineering and manufacturing jobs at the Centre and partnering companies who will provide the imaging, robotic and simulation equipment.

Once complete, SickKids will commercialize the technology to generate revenues that will be re-invested to further research at the Hospital, helping to sustain innovation over the long term.

The project is also funded by the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI), Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation (MRI) and SickKids Foundation.

• KidsArm is being developed by the team at the Centre for Image-Guided Innovation & Therapeutic Intervention (CIGITI) at SickKids. CIGITI’s vision is to bring together surgeons, engineers and software developers from universities and businesses to develop innovative technologies in robotic and minimally invasive surgery. CIGITI is divided into three research themes: imaging, robotics and simulation. (For more information, visit

• KidsArm will be the first robotic surgical arm in the world specifically designed for paediatric surgery. It will be capable of working in small and delicate spaces, under supervised image guidance. It will offer enhanced dexterity and precision, resulting in time savings both in surgery and in treatment.

• KidsArm will enable surgeons to quickly navigate to the treatment region, avoid dangerous structures such as blood vessels and quickly perform certain procedures.

• It will be able to perform procedures such as anastomosis (suturing vessels, tissues, etc.) at a rate that is at least 10 times faster than a surgeon.

• KidsArm is a tabletop surgical tool for minimally invasive operations that will be operated by medical personnel using a pair of hand controllers.

• KidsArm has a unique tip tool designed for automated movement under image guidance.

• This image-guided, MRI-compatible robot aims to increase surgical efficiency, safety, accessibility and patient care through supervised image guidance, pre-operative planning, fused intra-operative imaging (MRI, ultrasound and endoscope) and dexterous tools.

• Integrated imaging combines elements of magnetic resonance (MR), ultrasound and video to create a smarter 3D image for better real- time navigation.

• KidsArm creates virtual reality-based models used in surgical planning and teaching.

• The technology development and subsequent commercialization of KidsArm is expected to have broad and significant impacts to Ontario and to Canada by:

• Creating intellectual property assets that can be licensed or used for start-up creation

• Generating high-value manufacturing jobs

• Producing healthcare and research opportunities

• Developing educational programs for a wide range of learners from high school students to medical staff

• KidsArm is a new surgical platform that will be used across many paediatric surgical specialties, including cardiac surgery, neurosurgery, fetal surgery, urosurgery and general surgery.

Posted March 11, 2010