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Introducing the world's first intubation robot

McSleepy developer uses "KIS" to increase precision and safety of intubation

First there was McSleepyTM. Now it’s time to introduce the first intubation robot operated by remote control. This robotic system named The Kepler Intubation System (KIS), and developed by Dr. Thomas M. Hemmerling, McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) specialist and McGill University Professor of Anesthesia and his team, may facilitate the intubation procedure and reduce some complications associated with airway management. The world’s first robotic intubation in a patient was performed at the Montreal General Hospital earlier this month by Dr. Hemmerling.

“The KIS allows us to operate a robotically mounted video-laryngoscope using a joystick from a remote workstation,” says Dr. Hemmerling who is also a neuroscience researcher at the Research Institute of the MUHC. “This robotic system enables the anaesthesiologist to insert an endotracheal tube safely into the patient’s trachea with precision.”

The insertion of an endotracheal tube allows artificial ventilation, which is used in almost all cases of general anesthesia. Correct insertion of this tube into patients’ airways is a complex manoeuvre that requires considerable experience and practice to master. “Difficulties arise because of patient characteristics but there is no doubt that there are also differences in individual airway management skills that can influence the performance of safe airway management,” says Dr. Hemmerling. “These influences may be greatly reduced when the KIS is used.”

After successfully performing extensive tests in the airways of medical simulation mannequins, which closely resemble intubation conditions in humans, clinical testing in patients has now begun.

“High tech equipment has revolutionized the way surgery is done, allowing the surgeon to perform with higher precision and with almost no physical effort - I believe that the KIS can do for anesthesia what these systems have done for surgery”, says Dr. Armen Aprikian, Director of MUHC’s Department of Urology who performed surgery on the first patient treated using the KIS.

”We think that The Kepler Intubation System can assist the anesthesiologist’s arms and hands to perform manual tasks with less force, higher precision and safety. One day, it might actually be the standard practice of airway management," concludes Dr. Hemmerling, whose laboratory developed the world's first anesthesia robot, nicknamed McSleepyTM, in 2008, which provides automated anesthesia delivery.

About the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) One of the world’s foremost academic health centres, the MUHC offers exceptional and integrated patient-centric care, research and teaching. Highly committed to the continuum of care in its community and affiliated with the Faculty of Medicine of McGill University, The Montreal Children's Hospital, the Montreal General Hospital, the Royal Victoria Hospital, the Montreal Neurological Hospital, the Montreal Chest Institute and the Lachine Hospital of the MUHC value multidisciplinary service throughout the lifespan, innovative technologies and practices, strategic partnerships and leadership in knowledge transfer. The MUHC is currently carrying out a $2.25-billion Redevelopment Project on three campuses—the Mountain, the Glen and Lachine—designed to provide healthcare professionals with an effective environment in which to ensure patients and their families benefit from The Best Care for Life. The campuses are also anchored in best sustainable-development practices, including LEED® and BOMA BESt guidelines.

The Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI MUHC) is a world-renowned biomedical and health-care hospital research centre. Research is organized by eleven research axes (or programs). Located in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, the Institute is the research arm of the McGill University Health Centre affiliated with the Faculty of Medicine at McGill University. The Institute supports over 600 researchers, 1,000 graduate students, post-docs and fellows devoted to a broad spectrum of fundamental and clinical research. Over 1000 clinical research studies are conducted within our hospitals each year. The Research Institute of the MUHC is supported in part by the Fonds de la recherche en santé du Québec (FRSQ).

About McGill University
McGill University, founded in Montreal, Que., in 1821, is Canada’s leading post-secondary institution. It has two campuses, 11 faculties, 10 professional schools, 300 programs of study and more than 35,000 students. McGill attracts students from more than 150 countries around the world. Almost half of McGill students claim a first language other than English – including 6,200 francophones – with more than 6,800 international students making up almost 20 per cent of the student body.

Julie Robert | EurekAlert!
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