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01.06.2014 | Original Article | Ausgabe 2/2014

Forensic Science, Medicine and Pathology 2/2014

Virtobot 2.0: the future of automated surface documentation and CT-guided needle placement in forensic medicine

Forensic Science, Medicine and Pathology > Ausgabe 2/2014
Lars Christian Ebert, Wolfgang Ptacek, Robert Breitbeck, Martin Fürst, Gernot Kronreif, Rosa Maria Martinez, Michael Thali, Patricia M. Flach


In this paper we present the second prototype of a robotic system to be used in forensic medicine. The system is capable of performing automated surface documentation using photogrammetry, optical surface scanning and image-guided, post-mortem needle placement for tissue sampling, liquid sampling, or the placement of guide wires. The upgraded system includes workflow optimizations, an automatic tool-change mechanism, a new software module for trajectory planning and a fully automatic computed tomography-data-set registration algorithm. We tested the placement accuracy of the system by using a needle phantom with radiopaque markers as targets. The system is routinely used for surface documentation and resulted in 24 surface documentations over the course of 11 months. We performed accuracy tests for needle placement using a biopsy phantom, and the Virtobot placed introducer needles with an accuracy of 1.4 mm (±0.9 mm). The second prototype of the Virtobot system is an upgrade of the first prototype but mainly focuses on streamlining the workflow and increasing the level of automation and also has an easier user interface. These upgrades make the Virtobot a potentially valuable tool for case documentation in a scalpel-free setting that uses purely imaging techniques and minimally invasive procedures and is the next step toward the future of virtual autopsy.

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