Mechanical Engineering Professor Yoed Rabin is leading a team that’s developing a new approach to improve training for cryosurgery procedures used to treat prostate cancer. This approach will shorten the learning curve and improve the quality of the minimally invasive treatment by reducing complications, shortening recovery times, and lowering healthcare costs.

Rabin’s team has developed the first computerized training tool that provides feedback to the trainee and offers advice on how to maximize the freezing of cancer tumors while preserving the healthy tissues surrounding the site.

Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in men according the American Cancer Society, which predicts that one in seven men will be diagnosed with the disease during his lifetime and one in 38 will die from the disease.

As engineers and surgeons collaborate, we can improve the quality of the applied methods and advance the widespread use of cryotherapy.

Yoed Rabin, Professor, Mechanical Engineering, Carnegie Mellon University

In an article published in Technology in Cancer Research & Treatment, Rabin’s team demonstrated how its intelligent tutoring approach could shorten the learning curve of surgical residents. The computerized system, which runs about 100 times faster than the actual cryosurgery procedure, uses algorithms to create 3-D thermal images of tumors in patients in a variety of scenarios. This allows the trainees to see firsthand the effects of the tissue they are freezing.

“Cryogenic technology today is far more advanced than the surgical treatment methods used by surgeons,” Rabin explained. “As engineers and surgeons collaborate, we can improve the quality of the applied methods and advance the widespread use of cryotherapy.”

Carnegie Mellon co-authors on the paper include Kenji Shimada, professor of mechanical engineering, and recent Ph.D. graduates Anjali Sehrawat and Robert Keelan.