A first-of-its-kind clinical trial of robot-assisted brachytherapy for treating prostate cancer will take place at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital. Prostate brachytherapy, which requires accurate insertion of some 60 to 120 radioactive seeds in very specific places in the prostate, calls for a high degree of clinical skill and attention to detail. The robot, dubbed EUCLIDIAN, was designed by scientists to provide the steadiest and most precise method possible to implant the radioactive seeds directly at the site of a cancerous tumor in the prostate gland, eliminating the possibility of human error.

Currently, physicians use a plastic or metal template with holes in which to insert 15 to 20 needles that contain radioactive seeds into the prostate gland. Because this grid is thin, it is difficult for a person guiding it to push it smoothly and straightly through glandular tissue.

The EUCLIDIAN incorporates high-resolution ultrasound image processing, dose planning using genetic algorithms, 3D visualization, smart needle rotation for reducing tissue deformation and prostate displacement, and force feedback from nano-sensors installed at various points on the robot. Needle insertion and seed delivery are fully automatic. The physician controls the robot via a handheld controller and a computer interface.

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