Robotic innovation gives Croatian neurological surgeons a helping hand

An innovative and commercially competitive robotic system for neurosurgery applications has been developed through an EU-funded project based in Zagreb, Croatia. The new system is composed of a master robot for pre-planned navigation and an assistant robot for handling complex medical instruments, enabling it to perform specific and complex actions that require incredible precision and accuracy.

Additional tools

  • Print  
  • Decrease text  
  • Increase text  
The RONNA – Robotic Neuronavigation project developed a robotic system to assist surgeons during neurosurgery procedures. © University of Zagreb, Faculty of Mechanical Engineering and Naval Architecture The RONNA – Robotic Neuronavigation project developed a robotic system to assist surgeons during neurosurgery procedures. © University of Zagreb, Faculty of Mechanical Engineering and Naval Architecture

" A spin off company is planned in order to further develop the commercial robotic platform. Given the amount of interest shown, we are confident about ensuring a stable and sustainable support base for all clinical users. "

Bojan Jerbic, Department of Robotics and Automation of Manufacturing Systems, University of Zagreb

The RONNA robot is capable of performing precise bone drilling operations that the project team says will improve patient safety and reduce the potential trauma that can be caused by manual drilling procedures. 

The new system also features advanced control mechanisms that allow an intuitive and natural interaction between medical staff and the robot itself. The project team, which consisted of academic and medical staff, is now working on registering patents for some of these innovations.

Safer neurosurgical procedures

The project built upon previous robotic work done by members of the team and other research and sought to complete the transition from an experimental prototype robotic platform toward a more technologically advanced system capable of performing clinical neurosurgery procedures. These operations can present a highly complex challenge to even the most skilled and experienced neurosurgeons. 

The RONNA system was developed to assist surgeons during these procedures, and even improve on them. The master robot is essentially an intelligent navigation instrument that follows preoperative planning conducted by neurosurgeons, while the assistant robot is able to perform invasive surgeries such as sensitive bone drilling, external drainage catheter insertion and biopsy probe insertion. 

A mobile platform for robots

Activities within the RONNA project were split into two main phases. During the first phase, the project acquired equipment and conducted preliminary tests. The team developed and demonstrated planning and control models for the robotic platform. The second phase involved the development of mobile platforms for the master and assistant robots in line with specific medical requirements. The robots were then manufactured as a first commercial prototype. 

The team conducted successful clinical trials of the platform and made an oral presentation of these trials at the clinical hospital Dubrava. Furthermore, 18 medical personnel at Dubrava were given first-hand experience of operating the RONNA system, introducing them to cutting edge technologies that could one day revolutionise clinical care.. A spin off company from the project’s commercial partners plans to continue R&D activities, which will help bring the RONNA system closer to commercialisation.

Total investment and EU funding

Total investment for the project “RONNA – Robotic Neuronavigation” is EUR 486 638, with the EU’s European Regional Development Fund contributing EUR 342 729 through the “Regional Competitiveness” Operational Programme for the 2007-2013 programming period.

Draft date

28/11/2016