Patent number 8606377 is assigned to
The following quote was obtained by the news editors from the background information supplied by the inventors: "This invention relates to computer-assisted medical procedures. More particularly, this invention relates to techniques for preventing disruptive computer events during the performance of computer-assisted medical procedures.
"The meanings of certain acronyms and abbreviations used herein are given in Table 1.
"TABLE-US-00001 TABLE 1 Acronyms and Abbreviations CD Compact Disc CPU Central Processing Unit CT Computed Tomography MR Magnetic Resonance USB Universal Serial Bus
"Most modern general purpose computers and many special purpose computers are controlled by multitasking operating systems. Versions of Unix.RTM. and Microsoft Windows.RTM. operating systems are widely used examples. The task schedulers of these operating systems may concurrently queue dozens of processes having differing priorities. Some system or kernel processes may generate interrupts asynchronously or perform other actions that preempt various computer resources to the detriment of other processes executing at the application level. Examples of such processes include standard utilities, networking activities, firewall and antivirus functions.
"Attempts to alter existing event-driven operating system priorities are known. For example U.S. Pat. No. 6,931,553, issued to Plante et al. discloses selectively enabling general purpose events that would wake a machine from a sleep state, only when the operating system wants particular devices associated with the wake to be able to notify the operating system that a wake event has occurred.
"Another approach is taken in U.S. Pat. No. 7,451,454, issued to Chen et al. An event mechanism is implemented in a multiprocessor or hyper-threading computer architecture, allowing one physical or logical processor to engage in normal processing while directing special event operations to another physical or logical processor. In one embodiment, a timer is set and a polling function is called at the end of each of a plurality of time intervals. The polling function is performed by a first processor. If the polling function results in a positive result, the results of the polling function are processed with a second processor."
In addition to the background information obtained for this patent, VerticalNews journalists also obtained the inventors' summary information for this patent: "In one mechanism of action, asynchronous hardware interrupts generated by various computer resources and external devices may preempt execution of a medically important process. Indeed, this behavior, caused by a combination of computer activities, may cause the computer to become functionally unavailable to a medical process controlling an external medical device or medical procedure for unacceptably long time intervals, and without regard to the criticality of the ongoing medical operation, particularly in regard to realtime and near realtime computer operations that assist the performance of medical procedures on living subjects.
"Disclosed embodiments of the invention, provide an easily accessible, standardized software switch that will increase the efficiency and reliability of protecting critical application, such as but not limited to active medical applications, controlling transportation system, from disruptive computer events. This switch renders unnecessary ad hoc techniques such as batch files and scripts to configure the computer's operation in order to prevent disturbances to the operation. To simplify the description, all the description will use the example of medical application.
"An embodiment of the invention provides a computer-implemented system for process control having two operating modes: normal mode and active procedure mode, with automatic transition between them. In normal mode, the operating system, firewall and anti-virus are fully operational. When entering a time-critical phase of a process, a process control application signals the operating system and utilities, whereupon transition to active procedure mode automatically occurs, in which access by the system services and by other applications to the resources of the computer is selectively limited in favor of the process control application. Upon completion of the procedure, the system automatically returns to normal mode.
"An embodiment of the invention provides a system and method of preventing disruptive computer events in a medical computing system, which is carried out by applying a medical instrument to a living subject to perform a medical procedure thereon; controlling the medical instrument using a medical application executing on a computing device by intercommunicating signals between the computing device and the medical instrument. During a time-noncritical phase of the medical procedure, the computing device is operated in a first mode in which system services and applications other than the medical application are allowed access to resources of the computing device under control of the operating system. The method is further carried out by making a determination that the medical procedure has entered a time-critical phase, and thereupon automatically transitioning the computing device from the first mode to a second mode of operation in which the access by the system services and by other applications to the resources of the computing device is selectively limited in favor of the medical application."
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