FUTURA PROJECT has been awarded with TECHNOLOGY AWARD @ SMIT 2015 conference -

FUTURA project and preliminary results have been presented by Project Coordinator - Prof. Arianna Menciassi- during the 27th International Conference of the Society for Medical Innovation and Technology  - 10th - 12th September 2015 in Brno, Czech Republic.

FUTURA project was awarded with the TECHNOLOGY AWARD for the best lecture presented during the conference.


A computer-assisted robotic platform for high-intensity focused ultrasound surgery: the FUTURA project

A. Menciassi, A. Melzer, M. Santoro, E. Dumont, D.M. De Micheli, M. Muller

Methods - FUS is an early-stage, non-invasive therapeutic technology that has the potential to change the treatment of many medical disorders as an alternative to surgery and radiotherapy. However, the evolution from concept to approved healthcare method is a slow process. We believe that robotics would represent the way to speed-up this process with the enhancement of robustness, precision, repeatability and reproducibility. FUTURA (Focused Ultrasound Therapy Using Robotic Approaches) project ( stemmed from the idea to develop an autonomous, multi-functional and multi-robotic assisted platform able to perform non-invasive FUS applied to deformable tissues (kidney), under ultrasound (US) monitoring.

Results - The FUTURA robotic platform consists of: two 6 degrees of freedom anthropomorphic manipulators; a dedicated HIFU transducer; two different US probes both connected to the Analogic Ultrasound SonixTablet machine for organ targeting and therapy monitoring; sensors for control strategies. Intra-operative multi-modal control and safety strategies are implemented to improve precision, accuracy and safety of the therapeutic procedure, ensuring redundant information to the platform control core for the assessment of the target position, and consequently for the correctness of the therapy delivery. Considering a distance from the HIFU to the target of 200mm and a misalignment in HIFU calibration of 1°, the maximum expected error in targeting is 15mm at a first trial (no offset compensation). In the subsequent therapeutic actions, closed loop control ensures error compensation, reaching a 2mm targeting error essentially due to the 3D US tracking algorithm. Thus, by means of the whole FUTURA pipeline, the final targeting accuracy is guaranteed within the HIFU focal spot, i.e. a cigar shape of 2mm in diameter and 8 mm in length.

Conclusions - Despite the already demonstrated promising results, FUS suffers from drawbacks, which narrow its applicability. Robotic-assisted approach offers the chance to overcome these limitations, improving robustness, accuracy, repeatability and safety of the therapy.


FUTURA PROJECT has been awarded with the Best Abstract Prize @ EUFUS 2015 conference -

FUTURA project and preliminary results have been presented by Andrea Cafarelli (SSSA) during the 3rd European Symposium on Focused Ultrasound Therapy, October 15-16 in London.

FUTURA project was awarded with the BEST ABSTRACT PRIZE for one of the three best presentations of the conference.


A tissue-mimicking phantom for in-vitro accuracy evaluation of USgHIFU procedures
Andrea Cafarelli, Alessandro Diodato, Marco Mura, Selene Tognarelli, Leonardo Ricotti, Gastone Ciuti and Arianna Menciassi
The BioRobotics Institute, Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna

Purpose of the study - The aim of the work is to develop a tissue-mimicking (TM) phantom allowing an evaluation of the accuracy of Ultrasound guided High Intensity Focused Ultrasound (USgHIFU) procedures under in vitro conditions.
Background - The use of TM phantoms is extremely helpful for the preclinical development of HIFU systems [1]. Regarding in vitro evaluation of USgHIFU systems, a tumor-mimic model should properly simulate physiological tissues during all phases of the treatment, which are the following: 1) US guided target identification, 2) HIFU sonication and 3) US lesion assessment.
Materials and Methods - The TM phantom consists of a bulk of agar [2] in which cylinders (15mm diameter and 15mm height) made of a mixture of polyacrilamide gel (PAA) and egg white are dispersed [3]. The mixture of PAA and egg white is a good tumor-mimicking model for in vitro HIFU exposure, thus allowing to identify the embedded cylinders as target tumors for HIFU test.
The phantom has been created by depositing the cylinders on a base layer of agar while the covered layer is obtained by dropping agar solution on the top. The dropping process is done progressively while the agar polymerizes by cooling down. The phantom has been used to validate the target identification, the therapy and the lesion assessment procedures of a computer-assisted robotic platform for HIFU surgery [4] (the FUTURA platform,
Results - The phantom represents a good tumor-mimicking model for USgHIFU procedures for the following reasons: 1) the targets are clearly distinguishable in US B-mode images, 2) a well-defined lesion can be created inside the targets in response to HIFU exposure and 3) the created lesion can be visualized as a hyperechoic region by means of US images. The phantom has been exploited to evaluate the treatment accuracy of the FUTURA robotic platform under in vitro and static conditions. Tests demonstrated an average accuracy of the HIFU delivery of the overall system in the order of 1mm.
Figure 1. B-mode visualization of the phantom before and after HIFU sonication

Conclusion - This work demonstrated that agar phantoms with internal targets composed of a mixture of PAA and egg white can represent a good mimicking phantom for HIFU ablation procedures guided by Ultrasound.
Acknowledgement - Research supported by the European Commission in the framework of FUTURA project, grant agreement n. 611963


  1.  Lafon, C., et al. "Gel phantom for use in high-intensity focused ultrasound dosimetry." Ultrasound in medicine and biology 31.10 (2005): 1383-1389.
  2. Zell, K., et al. "Acoustical properties of selected tissue phantom materials for ultrasound imaging." Physics in medicine and biology 52.20 (2007): N475.
  3. Hu, Bing, Li-xin Jiang, and Ying Huang. "PAA phantom for use in thermal ablation of high intensity focused ultrasound: Phantom fabrication and acoustic parameters measurements." SHENGXUE JISHU 25.6 (2006): 613
  4. Cafarelli, A., et al. “A computer-assisted robotic platform for Focused Ultrasound Surgery: assessment of high intensity focused ultrasound deliver.” 37th Annual International Conference of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (2015).