Prostate Cancer Focal Laser Ablation Treatment

Project Title: Prostate Cancer Focal Laser Ablation Treatment

Project Duration: May 22 – July 28, 2017 (10 weeks), 40 hours per week.

Project Mentors:

  • Primary Faculty Mentor (Name, Affiliation, website and Email/Phone):

Zion Tsz Ho Tse, PhD, Assistant Prof of Medical Devices, College of Engineering, UGA,

Email:                                             Tel: 706-542-4189


  • Secondary Faculty Mentor (Name, Affiliation, website and Email/Phone):

Johnathan Murrow, MD, Athens Regional Medical Center, Assistant Prof of Medicine, GRU/UGA Medical Partnership

Email:                                            Tel: 706-475-1700


  • Graduate Student/PostDoc mentors (Name, Affiliation and Email/Phone):

Kevin Wu, Austin Taylor, Medical Robotics Lab, College of Engineering, UGA

Email:                    Tel: 706-542-4189


Project Description:

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer among males, leading to approximately 27,000 deaths in the United States [1]. Focal laser ablation (FLA) has been shown to be a promising approach for prostate cancer treatment. FLA has the potential to efficiently destroy cancer cells while inflicting less damage on surrounding tissues and therefore causing fewer side effects than other treatments. However, there are several drawbacks to the current clinical workflow for carrying out FLA procedures.


In order to ablate a tumor on the prostate, a laser—held in a catheter—must be guided to specific locations on the tumor’s surface. Currently, physicians use a rigid template to assist with guiding the FLA catheter to the target position. Drawbacks of the conventional approach for catheter targeting are 1) the limited range of motion allowed by the template and 2) a low insertion targeting resolution. These issues are especially problematic when planning a path for the catheter that avoids bones or delicate anatomy; the template may not be sufficient to assist with a complicated path through the body.


The aim of the proposed REU project is to improve the clinical workflow required for MRI-guided FLA prostate procedures. We will continue the development of a compact robot with a high range of motion that

Fig. 1 (a) Prostate robot assembly placed on the MR table; (b) Robot dimensions shown with a volunteer lying inside the MR scanner; (c) Assembly view of the remote insertion mechanism with the prostate robot; (d) Manipulation of the catheter with the remote insertion system.

can be operated inside the MRI bore during an MRI scan [2]. Together, the robot and MRI (fig. 1) will help the physician guide the catheter to the tumor, perform FLA, and verify that the tumor is completely destroyed.

REU Student Role and Responsibility:

Over the course of the REU program, the student will contribute to the optimization of a non-magnetic MRI-compatible robot for assisting with FLA of prostate tumors. The student’s project includes testing the MRI-compatibility [3] and effect of the robot on MR image quality, quantifying the robot’s targeting accuracy and precision, and evaluating the outcome of robot-assisted FLA procedures in terms of destruction of prostate tumors (fig. 2). The student will gain experience in MRI-guided medical procedures, OncoNav treatment planning software, and medical device testing. Weekly meetings with mentors will aid in the guidance of the REU student.

Fig. 2 MR images of the prostate phantom throughout FLA.


Expected Outcome for REU student:

The student’s work will contribute to the development of publications, aimed for submission as a conference paper in the Design of Medical Devices (DMD) conference. Upon completion of the entire project, a comprehensive paper on the device will be submitted for journal publication. The device may also be in consideration for commercialization pending experimental outcomes.




[1] R. Siegel et al., A Cancer Journal for Clinicians, 2014.

[2] Z.T.H. Tse, IEEE/TMech, 2008.

[3] K. Chinzei et al., MICCAI, 1999.