Supercomputer Performs Prostate Surgery

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A supercomputer at the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) recently piloted a laser to perform prostate surgery on a dog. The operation was done in Houston without the intervention of a human surgeon while the Lonestar supercomputer, a Dell Linux Cluster with 5,840 processors, was in Austin. According to TACC, 'the procedure was the culmination of three years of research and development into the algorithms, computer codes, imaging technology, and cyberinfrastructure.' Please note that even if the intervention was a success, the dog ultimately died. But the researchers are confident that their approach could lead to specific treatments in five to ten years for humans. In fact, they think this is the future of surgery, bringing engineering tools into medicine. Fascinating research.

Feedback control is achieved through the continual interaction of the data, compute, and visualization modules.

Even if the HPCwire is informative, a recent TACC news release provides more details. As explained David Fuentes, a post-doctoral student at the University of Texas at Austin's Institute for Computational Engineering and Sciences (ICES), and the central developer of the project, "We had a fifteen minute window in which a million things had to go right for this treatment to be successful. There had to be no flaw, no silly bug, everything had to go perfectly. And if that wasn't complicated enough, you add the complexity of a living animal. This is a pretty formidable problem."

And J. Tinsley Oden, director of ICES and principal investigator of the project, added, "It's been an extremely challenging problem that's met one unresolved open problem after another, solved it and pushed forward. And now we have a system that's working."


Optical Society of America