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About Sickkids
About SickKids

March 1, 2010

SickKids receives $10 million in funding to support medical research and the development of KidsArm

Read the backgrounder.

The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) has always been at the forefront of developing medical technology. Now, thanks to an investment of $10 million by the federal government, SickKids will strengthen its position as a leading centre for medical research in Southern Ontario. The funding announcement was made by the Hon. Gary Goodyear, Minister of the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario) at the Hospital earlier this morning.

“Our government supports scientific research because it creates jobs, strengthens the economy and improves Canadians’ quality of life,” said Minister Goodyear. “This investment will reinforce southern Ontario’s place as a world leader in medical research and innovation and provide opportunities to export made-in-Canada technology to hospitals worldwide.”

The money will be used by SickKids researchers to further develop the KidsArm robotic surgical system, the first paediatric technology of its kind in the world. The tool is an image-guided medical robot which enables surgeons to safely and efficiently perform less invasive surgical procedures. It can also cut down the average time of procedures by up to 90 per cent.

“At SickKids we encourage innovations that translate knowledge from the lab into clinical practice,” said Mary Jo Haddad, President and CEO of SickKids. “This project is a prime example of how research and technology can be transformed into clinical applications, which lead to improved health outcomes for our children.”

The Centre for Image-Guided Innovation & Therapeutic Intervention (CIGITI), SickKids’ cutting-edge medical, engineering and research centre, will develop KidsArm in partnership with MDA Corporation, Philips and other companies.

“The mission of our Centre is to imagine, innovate and provide health care differently from today,” said Dr. Peter C. W. Kim, Director of CIGITI, Paediatric General Surgeon and Senior Associate Scientist in Developmental & Stem Cell Biology at SickKids, and Professor of Surgery at the University of Toronto. “With this critical and timely investment from the federal government, we plan to develop the next generation of surgical robots, medical imaging and simulation technologies for the care of children and babies. This investment will help transform health care and education through innovative technology development while building intellectual capability and economic capacity in Ontario and in Canada.”

KidsArm: The next generation of surgical robotics at SickKids

  • KidsArm is being developed by the team at the Centre for Image-Guided Innovation & Therapeutic Intervention (CIGITI) at SickKids. CIGITI’s vision is to bring together surgeons, engineers and software developers from universities and businesses to develop innovative technologies in robotic and minimally invasive surgery. CIGITI is divided into three research themes: imaging, robotics and simulation. (For more information, visit
  • KidsArm will be the first robotic surgical arm in the world specifically designed for paediatric surgery. It will be capable of working in small and delicate spaces, under supervised image guidance.  It will offer enhanced dexterity and precision, resulting in time savings both in surgery and in treatment.
  • KidsArm will enable surgeons to quickly navigate to the treatment region, avoid dangerous structures such as blood vessels and quickly perform certain procedures.
  • It will be able to perform procedures such as anastomosis (suturing vessels, tissues, etc.) at a rate that is at least 10 times faster than a surgeon.
  • KidsArm is a tabletop surgical tool for minimally-invasive operations that will be operated by medical personnel using a pair of hand controllers.
  • KidsArm has a unique tip tool designed for automated movement under image guidance.
  • This image-guided, MRI-compatible robot aims to increase surgical efficiency, safety, accessibility and patient care through supervised image guidance, pre-operative planning, fused intra-operative imaging (MRI, ultrasound and endoscope) and dexterous tools.
  • Integrated imaging combines elements of magnetic resonance (MR), ultrasound and video to create a smarter 3D image for better real-time navigation.
  • KidsArm creates virtual reality-based models used in surgical planning and teaching.

The technology development and subsequent commercialization of KidsArm is expected to have broad and significant impacts to Ontario and to Canada by:

    • Creating intellectual property assets that can be licensed or used for start-up creation
    • Generating high-value manufacturing jobs
    • Producing health-care and research opportunities
    • Developing educational programs for a wide range of learners from high school students to medical staff
  • KidsArm is a new surgical platform that will be used across many paediatric surgical specialties, including cardiac surgery, neurosurgery, fetal surgery, urosurgery and general surgery.