Carnegie Mellon Press Release: March 26, 2004
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Press Release

Chriss Swaney

For immediate release:
March 26, 2004

Carnegie Mellon Researchers Create New Computerized Tool for Cryosurgery Planning

PITTSBURGH—Carnegie Mellon University's Yoed Rabin is leading an interdisciplinary research team in developing a new computerized tool to assist surgeons in planning cryosurgery, now being used to freeze undesired tissues in prostate cancer patients.

Rabin, an associate professor of mechanical engineering at Carnegie Mellon, reports that this newly developed software package will save time and money for both surgeons and patients.

Cryosurgery is performed as a minimally invasive procedure by inserting miniature cryoprobes having the shape of long hypodermic needles into a diseased part of the body, where the lethal process of freezing occurs near the tip of the cryoprobe, according to Rabin, who has 13 years of experience in developing cryosurgery devices and techniques.

"At present, the process of selecting the correct placement of the cryoprobes for a specific procedure is based on a surgeon's own experience," said Ralph Miller, a pioneer in prostate cryosurgery at Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh.

"The computerized planning tools being developed by Carnegie Mellon will recommend use on the best number and locations for the cryoprobes," said Miller, a urology specialist who has performed more than 1,100 cryosurgeries since 1991.

Rabin, who is working with Carnegie Mellon's Kenji Shimada and Miller, said his computer tool will also provide surgeons with three-dimensional images of simulated cryosurgeries. "It will let surgeons explore the effects of cryoprobe performance and localization in an interactive mode," Rabin said. Shimada is a professor of mechanical engineering and an expert in computation and optimization techniques.

Another important application of the new computerized tool is the training of cryosurgeons. "We need a way to get more surgeons trained in this procedure," Miller said. "This procedure has the capability of saving lives, reducing postoperative complications and eliminating traditionally lengthy surgical procedures."

The four-year, $720,000 cryosurgery research project is funded by the National Institutes of Health.


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