Instrument flight to the inner ear

Weber, Stefan; Gerber, Kate; Wimmer, Wilhelm; Williamson, Tom; Gerber, Nicolas; Anso, Juan; Bell, Brett; Feldmann, Arne Niklas; Rathgeb, Christoph Martin; Matulic, Marco Benjamin; Stebinger, Manuel; Schneider, Daniel; Mantokoudis, Georgios; Scheidegger, Olivier; Wagner, Franca; Kompis, Martin; Caversaccio, Marco (2017). Instrument flight to the inner ear. Science robotics, 2(4), pp. 1-12. American Association for the Advancement of Science 10.1126/scirobotics.aal4916

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Surgical robot systems can work beyond the limits of human perception, dexterity, and scale, making them inherently suitable for use in microsurgical procedures. However, despite extensive research, image-guided robotics applications for microsurgery have seen limited introduction into clinical care to date. Among others, challenges are geometric scale and haptic resolution at which the surgeon cannot sufficiently control a device outside the range of human faculties. Mechanisms are required to ascertain redundant control on process variables that ensure safety of the device, much like instrument flight in avionics. Cochlear implantation surgery is a microsurgical procedure, in which specific tasks are at submillimetric scale and exceed reliable visuo-tactile feedback. Cochlear implantation is subject to intra- and interoperative variations, leading to potentially inconsistent clinical and audiological outcomes for patients. The concept of robotic cochlear implantation aims to increase consistency of surgical outcomes, such as preservation of residual hearing, and to reduce invasiveness of the procedure. We report successful image-guided, robotic cochlear implantation in human. The robotic treatment model encompasses computer-assisted surgery planning, precision stereotactic image guidance, in situ assessment of tissue properties, and multipolar neuromonitoring, all based on in vitro, in vivo, and pilot data. The model is expandable to integrate additional robotic functionalities such as cochlear access and electrode insertion. Our results demonstrate the feasibility and possibilities of using robotic technology for microsurgery on the lateral skull base. It has the potential for benefit in other microsurgical domains for which there is no task-oriented robotic technology available at present.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


04 Faculty of Medicine > Department of Head Organs and Neurology (DKNS) > Clinic of Ear, Nose and Throat Disorders (ENT)
10 Strategic Research Centers > ARTORG Center for Biomedical Engineering Research > ARTORG Center - Hearing Research Laboratory
04 Faculty of Medicine > Department of Radiology, Neuroradiology and Nuclear Medicine (DRNN) > Institute of Diagnostic and Interventional Neuroradiology
10 Strategic Research Centers > ARTORG Center for Biomedical Engineering Research
10 Strategic Research Centers > ARTORG Center for Biomedical Engineering Research > ARTORG Center - Image Guided Therapy
04 Faculty of Medicine > Pre-clinic Human Medicine > Institute for Surgical Technology & Biomechanics ISTB [discontinued]

Graduate School:

Graduate School for Cellular and Biomedical Sciences (GCB)

UniBE Contributor:

Weber, Stefan (B), Gerber, Kate, Wimmer, Wilhelm, Williamson, Tom, Gerber, Nicolas, Anso, Juan, Bell, Brett, Feldmann, Arne Niklas, Rathgeb, Christoph Martin, Matulic, Marco Benjamin, Stebinger, Manuel, Schneider, Daniel, Mantokoudis, Georgios, Scheidegger, Olivier, Wagner, Franca, Kompis, Martin, Caversaccio, Marco


600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health
500 Science > 570 Life sciences; biology




American Association for the Advancement of Science




Wilhelm Wimmer

Date Deposited:

29 May 2017 07:23

Last Modified:

29 Mar 2023 23:35

Publisher DOI:


PubMed ID:





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