[Closed] CIFRE PhD thesis offer in "Advanced robotics and signal processing approaches to improve the pedicle screw placement" at SpineGuard and Sorbonne University

Information about closed positions is only kept for reference purposes.


This thesis is offered under a CIFRE convention.
This thesis is offered under a CIFRE convention.


The R&D department of SpineGuard and the ISIR lab are pleased to offer a CIFRE Thesis position to design smart intraoperative sensing for robotic orthopedic surgical applications. The successful applicant will receive a PhD scholarship for 3 years sponsored by SpineGuard.

PhD topic

A key motivation for introducing robots in operating rooms has been their ability to deliver superhuman performance. Surgical robots are able to execute highly precise gestures that rapidly and stably position instruments in many degrees of freedom (DOFs). However, for the vast majority of surgical procedures, robotic positioning precision alone is not sufficient to realize the “right gesture”. Surgical plans are generally only a very idealized sketch of the intraoperative reality which is also defined by patient motion, tissue deformation, bleeding, etc. Therefore, when finally deciding where exactly to make “the cut” (or intervene on tissue in any other irreversible manner), surgeons “disconnect” from the preoperative plan. Surgical teams resort to their own senses and experience. On the spot, based on the interpretation of the limited intraoperative scene, tactical decisions will be made.

In this context, for orthopedic applications (e.g. pedicle screw placement), a selected set of sensors that could then form a comprehensive representative of surgical scenes can be utilized to offer the sufficient sensory information for autonomous robotic control.

The proposed PhD thesis will be focused on robot control using multimodal information, e.g., tissue conductivity and ultrasound. Both of these sensing technologies being able to provide, real-time, high resolution, and non-radiating data. By looking at smart sensors, signal processing and modelling algorithms, this PhD will investigate an advanced understanding of the robot’s pose and contact state within its surroundings for orthopedic surgeries and formulate a consolidated strategy to fuse multi-model sensory information and eventually design real-time control schemes. The conducted research will be applied on degenerative spine diseases for diagnosis and surgical interventions.

SpineGuard company

The successful applicant will be hired by SpineGuard (http://www.spineguard.com), an innovative company that deploys its DSG (Dynamic Surgical Guidance) sensing technology to secure and streamline the placement of bone implants. The scientific principle of the DSG technology is based on multiple sensing types, in particular the local electrical conductivity sensing and the ultrasound technology. The proprietary electrical conductivity sensing is a well-established real-time technology to help the surgeon determining the type of tissue in front of the DSG instrument tip. A significant research phase already allowed to transfer the manual gesture and the conductivity signal analysis from a human user to a robotic arm for autonomous drilling and automatic breach prevention.

The SpineGuard’s patent portfolio and R&D work also include concepts using ultrasound scanning to determine the optimum drilling trajectory. Both technologies when used in association have the potential to greatly improve the safety, accuracy and autonomy level of pedicle drilling and screw insertion.

ISIR Laboratory

The successful applicant will also be integrated within ISIR ((http://www.isir.upmc.fr), a multidisciplinary research institute which belongs to Sorbonne University and the CNRS. ISIR, organized in 5 research teams, covers several disciplines of robotics, AI and intelligent systems. The recruited candidate will integrate the AGATHE ((http://www.isir.upmc.fr/teams/agathe/?lang=en) which is involved in several disciplines of medical robotics, rehabilitation, motorized orthoses and prostheses, intelligent walkers.

LIB Laboratory

The successful applicant will also be integrated within the Laboratoire d’Imagerie Biomédicale (LIB, (http://www.lib.upmc.fr) belonging to Sorbonne University, INSERM and CNRS. LIB specializes in fundamental research and applications of biomedical imaging methods for morphologic, functional and molecular explorations. We develop new diagnosis and treatment methodologies using ultrasound, MRI, CT and SPECT-PET. The recruited candidate will integrate the Bone Quality team (https://www.lib.upmc.fr/team-1-determinant-of-bone-mechanical-status-dbms/?lang=en). The research on robotic orthopedics has been supported by the European H2020 and Flemish government, this PhD thesis will be part of the team of the European project FAROS (Functionally Accurate RObotic Surgery), an H2020-funded project (https://h2020faros.eu/) launched on January 1st, 2021 and coordinated by KU Leuven and involving King’s College London, University of Zurich and Sorbonne Université.

Key words

intraoperative sensing, ultrasound, impedance, orthopedic surgery, multi-scale sensing, data fusion, decision making, autonomous robot control, minimal invasive surgery, human-robot interaction.

Candidate background

  • Candidates must hold an engineering diploma or Master of Science, e.g. biomedical engineering, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, robotics, etc.
  • We are seeking a highly motivated and result-oriented candidate with a strong background in smart instrument design, signal and image processing, applied mathematics, robotics and/or control
  • Experience in signal processing, data fusion, deep learning, electronics, mechanical design, programming of C++, python, MATLAB, and skills in using ROS library would be an advantage
  • Candidates must be fluent in English. French is a plus
  • Problem solving skills
  • The candidate must be a team player

Application procedure

To apply please send (in a single PDF file) a detailed CV, a statement of motivation, two reference letters, degree certificates, transcripts of grades and any additional support material to:

Application deadline

The selection process is ongoing and will last until the position is filled. The envisioned starting date is February or March 2022.

Thibault Chandanson
Thibault Chandanson
R&D Director
Brahim Tamadazte
Brahim Tamadazte
Senior Research Scientist
Quentin Grimal
Quentin Grimal