Alperen Degirmenci: Enabling Advanced Visualization and Autonomous Instrument Tracking in Cardiac Interventions

December 7, 2016 @ 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm
B17 Hackerman Hall
Louis Whitcomb


Catheters play a key role in diagnosing and treating cardiac arrhythmia. Intracardiac echo (ICE) catheters enable real-time 2D ultrasound image acquisition from within the heart, however, manually steering ICE catheters inside a beating heart is a complex and time consuming task. The clinical use of ICE catheters is therefore limited to only a few critical tasks, such as septal puncture. At the Harvard Biorobotics Lab, we built a robotic system that can automatically steer four degree-of-freedom catheters, enabling real-time tracking of instruments within the heart and 3D visualization of cardiac tissue. In this talk, I will walk you through the design process in preparing our system for in vivo trials, and present results from our latest live animal experiment. I will describe the control strategies we employed to accurately steer these flexible manipulators in the presence of external disturbances (e.g. respiratory motion) and unmodeled motion of the catheter body. Finally, I will describe the GPU-accelerated image processing pipeline we used to generate 3D volumetric images of the heart in real-time from the 2D images acquired by the ICE catheter.


Alperen Degirmenci is a PhD candidate in Engineering Sciences at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. He has been working in the BioRobotics Laboratory since 2012 under the supervision of Prof. Robert D. Howe. Alperen earned his M.S. degree from Harvard University in 2015, and a B.S. degree in Mechanical Engineering from the Johns Hopkins University in 2012, with minors in mathematics, computer science, robotics, and computer-integrated surgery. Alperen’s research at Harvard focuses on real-time, high-performance algorithm development for medical ultrasound image processing and robotic procedure guidance in catheter-based cardiac interventions.