Queen's School of Computing

CISC 330/3.0 Computer-Integrated Surgery

Original Author: Gabor Fichtinger
Last Revised: December 4, 2009

Calendar Description

Concepts of computer-integrated surgery systems and underlying techniques such as medical-image computing, robotics, and virtual reality, learned through real-life applications and problems. Techniques learned in class will be applied in a hands-on surgery session where students perform minimally invasive surgery with virtual-reality navigation tools. Enrolment is limited.

Learning Hours: 120 (36L;84P)

Prerequisites CISC-121/3.0 and (CISC-271/3.0 or MATH-272/3.0).

Exclusions COMP-230/3.0, COMP-329/3.0.


This course is designed to introduce the concepts and underlying technologies of computer-integrated surgery (CIS) systems. Students who like thinking critically and are interested in the cross section of engineering and medicine will enjoy this course. Students will learn to ask questions and look for answers the way medical engineers study and build CIS systems. Computer-integrated surgery is a field in the intersection of computer science, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, life sciences, and medicine. Even the simplest real-life problems involve these disciplines to an almost equal degree. The courses will emphasize multi-disciplinary concepts and systems introduced through a series of novel clinical applications that are currently in use or under development at various institutions, including Queen's University.

There will be a hands-on surgery session allowing students to practice on an artificial subject made of non bio-hazardous materials. Surgeries will entail image-guided minimally invasive percutaneous (through-the-skin) interventions, such as image-guided joint arthrography, facet joint injections and nerve blocks. Students will work in teams of up to 10. The instructor, Dr. G. Fichtinger, will lead and supervise the surgery session. A teaching assistant will help with transportation and setup of the equipment and supervising the students. All image data necessary for the surgery session will be acquired prior to the session. Plans are being considered to create an undergraduate computer-assisted surgery classroom. Until then, however, Dr. Fichtinger's research lab in Goodwin Hall will host the students in small groups. Depending on the number of students in the class, there will be several sessions to choose from.

The main difference between this course and COMP-329/3.0 is that the assignments will be more challenging.


  1. Methods and Technologies

    • Medical imaging
    • Image computing
    • Position sensing and tracking
    • Surgical navigation
    • Medical robotics
    • Virtual reality
    • Haptics and Human-Computer Interfaces

  2. Clinical Applications

    • Biopsies
    • Therapeutic injections and tumour ablations
    • Brachytherapy implants
    • Radiotherapy and radiosurgery
    • Musculoskeletal surgery
    • Clinical safety

  3. Hands-on Surgery Session

Selected References

  • Computer Assisted Interventions, Technology and Applications, by Terry M. Peters and K. Cleary. Springer, February 2008.
  • Looking Within: How X-Ray, CT, MRI, Ultrasound, and Other Medical Images Are Created, and How They Help Physicians Save Lives, by Anthony Brinton Wolbarst. University of California Press, 1999. This book is an easy, yet very useful introduction to the fundamentals of the most popular medical imaging devices.
  • Naked to the Bone: Medical Imaging in the Twentieth Century, by Bettyann Kevles. Sloan Technology Series, Rutgers University Press, 1997. This book provided rich historical and social background to the evolution of popular medical imaging devices.