Kitware Awarded Phase I SBIR Funding for Robot-Assisted Prostate Surgery Research

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Joint-agency award will be used to develop improved visualization software utilized by the da Vinci Surgical Robot System

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“Our goal is to better equip surgeons during robot-assisted prostate surgery by improving their ability to visualize the prostate and surrounding critical anatomy,” said Andinet Enquobahrie.

Kitware, one of the fastest-growing open-source software companies in the country, has been awarded Phase I SBIR funding from NIBIB, through a unique joint agency initiative of The National Institutes of Health (NIH), Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the National Science Foundation (NSF), the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), and the Department of Homeland Security. The initial Phase I funding will be used to create an augmented reality visualization prototype that will improve the efficacy and safety of robot-assisted prostate surgery.

Kitware will develop a human/machine collaborative system (HMCS) that provides surgeons with an augmented reality (AR) view that fuses a pre-operative MRI model of the prostate, tumor and surrounding tissues with the da Vinci system laparoscopic video, while compensating for non-rigid prostate tissue deformation using intra-operative transrectal ultrasound (TRUS) imaging. Adding an AR system with intra-operatively updated anatomical models to the robotic system will allow the surgeon to perceive the multimodality information more effectively and thereby perform the prostatectomy with improved accuracy.

Surgeons traditionally rely heavily on visual cues and tactile feedback when performing open surgery. However, this ability is reduced when performing laparoscopic surgery, forcing surgeons to use input from video monitors and medical images to help them understand underlying anatomies. The resulting difficulties have created a clinical need for more accurate and reliable surgical guidance.

“Our goal is to better equip surgeons during robot-assisted prostate surgery by improving their ability to visualize the prostate and surrounding critical anatomy,” said Andinet Enquobahrie, a Technical Leader at Kitware and Principal Investigator on this project. “This will lead to more accurate and reliable guidance and better surgical outcomes. We are excited to partner on this project with the Center for Computer Integrated Surgical Systems and Technology (CISST ERC) at Johns Hopkins University and Blue Torch Medical Technologies.”

The collaboration on this project brings together a strong team poised to make a significant impact in laparoscopic surgery. With the development of this innovative navigation system, the team will address some of the most pressing challenges surgeons face. Surgeons will be able to pinpoint specific prostate regions for more in-depth analysis, resulting in safer, more effective surgery and improved prognoses for the quarter-of-a-million men in the United States who will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2011.

About Kitware

Kitware, Inc. is a leader in the creation and support of open-source software and state-of-the-art technology, and is one of the fastest growing software companies in the country. Kitware leverages its open-source communities and diverse technical expertise to provide advanced custom solutions for a host of complex technical problems. Founded in 1998, Kitware's team is widely recognized for their major contributions to a variety of open-source software systems including the Visualization Toolkit (VTK), the Insight Segmentation and Registration Toolkit (ITK), CMake and ParaView. Kitware has made an impact in the areas of visualization, data management, medical imaging, quality software process, computer vision and informatics. Among Kitware's global customers and collaborators are top academic research facilities, government institutions and private corporations worldwide. Kitware's products and services include technology integration, software support, consulting, custom application development and training and productivity tools that leverage open source systems. For more information, please visit


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Nicole Messier
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