The Peer review has evaluated this group as Excellent
This line of research includes three main topics: Prostheses and artificial organs Research is focused on the assessment and optimization of surgical correction procedures through the design and use of computer simulations and experimental procedures. Moreover, among the aims of this research line, there is the design and assessment of novel prostheses and therapeutic devices, with particular emphasis on the design of devices for extracorporeal blood treatments with advanced engineering techniques. Specific activities concerning cardiovascular surgery are focused on heart valve repair and substitution, neonatal/pediatric heart surgery and stent design. In the former case both computational and experimental tools are developed to obtain pathology models to be used to predict the functional outcome of surgical treatments. In the field of neonatal/pediatric heart surgery, the aim is the optimisation of complex surgical procedures by fine-tuned evaluation of the hemodynamics in surgically modified vessel structures. In the field of vascular stents and connectors, the vessel geometry modifications and the drug elution are investigated and optimised.Specific activities concerning blood treatment devices are focused on studying haemodialysis devices, haemofilters and blood exchangers with advanced engineering techniques. Emphasis is placed on transfer phenomena. The catabolyte removal efficiency of dialysers are studied by mixed experimental and numerical modelling, in view of exploiting the potentialities of new treatment strategies (hemodiafiltration, high-flux dialysis) and technologies (new membranes). The activities concerning hemofilters are carried out with a multiscale computational approach that allows one to catch all the relevant phenomena of toxins sorption from the molecular scale to the macroscale. This kind of activity crosses the border between the present research line and the “Biomimetic engineering and micro-nanotechnology” research line. Computer assisted surgery and radiotherapy In the frame of computer Assisted Surgery (CAS) and Radiotherapy (CART), research activities are focused on the development and testing of surgical navigation technologies in frameless neurosurgery and orthopaedics by means of 20 optical localization devices and 3-D surface scanning techniques. Infra-red optical localization systems are also used for patient position verification and respiratory gating in Image-guided radiotherapy (IGRT) and specific effort is produced in order to integrate optical localization technologies with intra-operative imaging devices. Specific activities are focused on the optimization of pre-operative surgical planning and are based on functional modelling through 3D/4D diagnostic volumetric imaging as well as on soft tissues visualization and 3D reconstruction by means of ultrasound technologies. Particular attention is given to the problem of organ motion, which may decrease the reliability of surgical navigation and tumour targeting in mininvasive surgical intervention and high-precision irradiation, respectively. The question is faced by designing and testing dedicated systems for intra-operative data/image acquisition, based on optical and navigated ultrasound technologies. Algorithms for real-time intra-operative data visualization and rigid /deformable registration with respect to the pre-operative surgical plan are also developed in the frame of this research line. As far as computer assisted radiotherapy is concerned, specific activities are focused on the question of realtime tumour targeting by means of dedicated technologies for respiratory gating, which are used not only at the moment of the radiation delivery but also during the acquisition of the CT image for treatment planning under the concept of 4-D volumetric imaging.