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About Sickkids
About SickKids

March 9, 2015

Industry Minister gets sneak-peek at innovative surgical robots at SickKids

The Honourable James Moore, Minister of Industry, made his first visit to The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) on March 9 to meet with scientists and staff working in the Centre for Image-Guided Innovation and Therapeutic Intervention (CIGITI). 


Minister Moore met with Dr. Mike Apkon, President and CEO of SickKids, Dr. Christopher Caldarone, Surgeon-in-Chief and Dr. James Drake, Director of CIGITI and Head of Neurosurgery. Drake and his team led Minister Moore through demonstrations of the innovative projects underway in the CIGITI lab. Minister Moore tested his neurosurgery skills by trying out the next-generation KidsArm robot: Minimally-Invasive Endoscopic Manipulator System (MIEMS).

In 2010, SickKids received $10 million from the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario) to support the development of KidsArm, MR-guided interventions including Focused Ultrasound and Surgical Simulation. Over the past five years, the CIGITI team has been hard at work in the research lab, building on the original KidsArm design. They are currently developing next-generation KidsArm robot prototypes, which will be ready for clinical use within the next three to five years.

“The research we are doing in the CIGITI lab has progressed at an exciting rate, and through our prototype testing, we are getting closer to bringing this advanced technology to the forefront of surgical care for children,” said Drake.

KidsArm, a descendant of Canadarm, is the first image-guided robotic surgical arm in the world, specifically designed for paediatric surgery. This innovative medical tool was developed by CIGITI’s scientists, in partnership with MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd., Philips and other companies. The KidsArm robots are medical tools that will enable surgeons to safely and rapidly perform minimally invasive surgical procedures on children. They are capable of working in small and delicate spaces and will offer enhanced dexterity and precision.

"Canadians are incredibly proud of our achievements in space robotics such as Canadarm and Dextre. Soon, taxpayer-funded technology used in Canada's most famous robot will help improve health outcomes for children here in Canada and around the world,” said Minister Moore. “KidsArm demonstrates how innovation in space robotics can lead to innovation in health research. Canadian families will soon reap direct health benefits from Canada's proud history in space."

During his visit to SickKids, Minister Moore also had a chance to meet SickKids patient ambassador Camryn Nowak and her father David. Camryn, now 8, was diagnosed with a brain tumour when she was only two years old and has had two brain surgeries performed by Dr. Drake. The MIEMS robot, one of the highlights of the tour, is expected to eventually help improve the same endoscopic third ventriculostomy (ETV) procedure that Camryn has undergone twice. The Nowak family hopes that through continued CIGITI research, medical advances will be made that can help other kids like Camryn.