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A robot with a healing touch
NeuroArm, the world’s first and only robot capable of performing neurosurgery on a patient inside a magnetic resonance machine, is on the cusp of commercialization. Developed by a team led by neurosurgeon Garnette Sutherland of the University of Calgary and MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates (MDA), makers of the Canadarm, the technology was bought in 2010 by IMRIS Inc., a Winnipeg-based medical device manufacturer. The publicly traded company, which employs 170 people, is working with MDA to develop a second-generation version of neuroArm and plans to seek regulatory approvals and sell the system worldwide.
First used to remove a brain tumour in 2008, neuroArm has since been used successfully to treat more than 30 patients in an ongoing clinical trial at Foothills Medical Centre in Calgary. The technology is expected to result in more effective, less invasive surgeries, leading to speedier recoveries and thereby reducing health-care costs.