LAser-assisted RObot-guided CArtilage REgeneration (LAROCARE) (PAUSED)
The LAROCARE project has been on hold since November 2020. Efforts to acquire funding covering further work are ongoing. As soon as more funding could be acquired, this promising project will be resumed.
The knee is the largest joint in the human body. For every step taken, it must absorb forces that represent a multiple of the human’s body weight. To dampen impacts and to minimize friction inside the joint, the bones are coated with a layer of cartilage. This cartilage tissue may be damaged due to aging, repetitive actions, or traumatic injury. Cartilage damage may lead to pain or instability while moving. A possible treatment option is to surgically remove the damaged cartilage tissue and to fill the generated defect with a precisely shaped, tissue engineered cartilage (TEC) graft. Nowadays, removing defected cartilage as well as shaping the TEC is performed manually using standard mechanical cutting tools such as biopsy punches or scalpels. This approach tends to be simple and quick – however, only a limited cutting accuracy can be achieved. Moreover, removing defected cartilage exactly down to subchondral bone is not possible by hand. Finally, these cutting or shaping methods are known to induce death of cells resident in the tissues, thus hampering a good integration of the TECs in the defect and consequently the regeneration of the defect.
To circumvent these limitations of manual defect removal and graft shaping, we are developing a system leveraging robotic positioning and laser light for precise, controlled, and contactless tissue ablation. In the current phase, we are developing sterile workflows to exclude any contamination of the sample between initial harvesting and subsequent processing steps to allow obtaining first insights into robot-assisted laser treatment of defective and regenerative cartilage in a laboratory setting. No mechatronic or optical components need to be sterilized using these workflows, easing a future integration of the developed system into clinical settings. Our current system is a valuable resource for preliminary investigations related to the response of chondrocytes to laser ablation and hence enables us to optimize optical components and laser parameters. It further allows to evaluate feedback and visualization systems which can support the user during tissue preparation or automate certain processing steps.
Project leader: Cédric Duverney
The developed robot-assisted laser ablation system: A (1) robotic stage is used to precisely position the (2) biological sample in the focal spot of the (3) ablation laser. Live images from a (4) camera are displayed in a (5) graphical user interface, allowing the ablation process to be monitored in real time.
Barbero Lab (University of Basel):
Biomedical Laser and Optics Group (University of Basel):
Cartilage Engineering Group (University of Zurich):
C. Duverney, H. Abbasi, M. Berkelaar, K. Pelttari, P. C. Cattin, A. Barbero, A. Zam, and G. Rauter, “Sterile Tissue Ablation Using Laser Light—System Design, Experimental Validation, and Outlook on Clinical Applicability,” ASME Journal of Medical Devices, vol. 15, 2021.
C. Duverney, H. Abbasi, L. M. Beltr´an Bernal, T. Stauber, J. G. Snedeker, P. C. Cattin, A. Zam, and G. Rauter, “Robot- and laser-assisted bio-sample preparation: Development of an integrated, intuitive system,” in Seventh Int. Workshop on Medical and Service Robots (MESROB2020), vol. 93 of Mechanisms and Machine Science, pp. 219–226, 2021.