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MRI-guided spinal injection could make ALS therapy faster and less invasive

A robotic system named SpinoBot uses MRI guidance to position a needle for percutaneous injection into the spinal cord and could potentially be used for procedures that require precise access to the spine, according to a paper in the most recent issue of Annals of Biomedical Engineering.
The neurodegenerative disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) results in the death of motor neurons in voluntary muscles, the abstract states. There are no cures for ALS and few available treatments.

In studies with small animal models, injection of cellular therapeutics into the anterior horn of the spinal cord has been shown to inhibit the progression of ALS, according to the abstract.

It was hypothesized that spinal injection could be made faster and less invasive with the aid of a robot. The robotic system presented—SpinoBot—uses MRI guidance to position a needle for percutaneous injection into the spinal cord.

With four degrees of freedom (DOF) provided by two translation stages and two rotational axes, SpinoBot proved capable of advanced targeting with a mean error of 1.12 mm and standard deviation of 0.97 mm in bench tests, and a mean error of 2.2 mm and standard deviation of 0.85 mm in swine cadaver tests.

SpinoBot has shown less than 3% signal-to-noise ratio reduction in 3T MR imaging quality, demonstrating its compliance to the MRI environment.

With the aid of SpinoBot, the length of the percutaneous injection procedure is reduced to less than 60 min with 10 min for each additional insertion.

Although SpinoBot is designed for ALS treatment, it could potentially be used for other procedures that require precise access to the spine, according to the abstract.

The authors include: Alexander Squires, John N. Oshinski, Nicholas M. Boulis and Zion Tsz Ho Tse. The institutions involved in the research include:  The University of Georgia, Emory University, the Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering Georgia Institute of Technology & Emory University School of Medicine and Driftmier Engineering Center.
 

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