FDA approves world’s first MRI-compatible breast biopsy robot

robotic surgery, FDA, breast cancer, FDA clearance, Insight Medbotics, MRI machine

Insight Medbotics has achieved FDA clearance for what it claims to be the world’s first surgical robot designed to operate within the bore of an MRI machine. This innovative robotic system, called IGAR (image-guided automated robot), is specifically designed to assist in performing breast biopsies to investigate suspicious lesions for potential cancer. Operating within an MRI presents significant challenges due to the strong magnetic field, but IGAR overcomes these obstacles.

The IGAR system is primarily constructed from plastic and non-ferrous metals, with ceramic materials used for the piezoelectric motors that assist in aligning and inserting biopsy tools. Carefully designed copper wiring and mechanical connections are used to prevent interference with the MRI’s magnetic field. The moving components are integrated into the patient bed, with a separate, shielded control cart placed just outside the scanner’s range.

IGAR is compatible with a range of off-the-shelf biopsy tools, syringes, and anesthesia needles. The company, based in Ontario, Canada, was established in 2017 as a joint venture between the Centre for Surgical Invention and Innovation and MDA, known for designing the Canadarm robotic system used in space missions.

Insight Medbotics has also collaborated with the Canadian Space Agency to develop tele-robotic capabilities for IGAR and worked with IBM on autonomous technology that could enable IGAR to operate without human intervention. The company envisions that its technology could eventually be adapted for use in standard operating rooms, doctors’ offices, therapy delivery, and device placement.

FDA clearance marks a significant milestone for this technology, bringing it one step closer to benefiting patients. The journey to develop IGAR has been made possible through partnerships, investments, and collaborations with organizations like McMaster University, St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton, and MDA, combining expertise in robotics, medical innovation, and space technology. Insight Medbotics sees IGAR as a valuable advancement in precision medicine and healthcare robotics.

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