Latest Robotic Surgery News


robotic surgery news

Medical robotics has been in use for approximately 30 years. Robotic surgery is called “revolutionary” by many surgeons who value it for its many advantages, both real and potential. Its origin owes much to the weaknesses of the minimally invasive surgery (MIS) technologies that preceded it.

Noninvasive robots are useful in image-guided therapy, including the CyberKnife or image-guided radiosurgery, the first such platform to be FDA-approved. The use of non-invasive thermotherapy using high-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) coupled with robotic manipulators has been described.

Newer Approaches

A man and a woman standing in a kitchen

Newer colonoscopic surgical robots demonstrate improvements in four crucial areas: adjustable stiffness, detectability, bendability, and controllability. A miniature robotic system (“Endotics”) with inchworm-like vacuum-based mobility has been described, to enhance the accuracy of colonoscopic diagnosis and surgery.

Similarly, a novel constrained tendon-driven serpentine mechanism (CTSM) has been designed to overcome these obstacles, with expanded workspace, and better control of the bending section.

The NeoGuide colonoscopy system is an advanced soft robot that incorporates compliance, safe interaction with the body, actuation and sensing, greater dexterity and increased workspace.

This uses a computer-assisted insertion tube with complete articulation, rather like a snake, where the tip of the scope sets the direction for each successive segment, thus allowing the tube to take different shapes at different depths of insertion. It also has variable stiffness control, preventing incomplete or painful endoscopy.

Such advancements also bring natural orifice transluminal endoscopic surgery (NOTES) nearer, where surgery can be truly non-invasive, by helping to achieve greater stability of the instruments despite their flexibility, allow sufficient force to be applied for traction and large organ retraction, proper positioning of the instruments, greater dexterity and imaging quality.

Miniature in vivo robots

A person sitting on a stage in front of a mirror

Miniature in vivo robots, developed by Virtual Incision and Center for Advanced Surgical Technology (CAST), are a novel approach with the whole MIS surgical platform being inserted into the peritoneal cavity. These have two arms with multiple functionalities, with several joints for unlimited flexibility.

With a minute entry incision, miniature motors driving the arms, and a high degree of flexibility, these offer scarless surgery, and can be used by inexperienced surgeons under the mentorship of veterans, highly expanding patient access.

These robots allow surgeons to image the surgical site from many angles, and to complete the surgical task on-site or remotely. These are inexpensive, and easily transportable, allowing MIS to be done anytime, anywhere, by almost anyone, from outer space to battlefields or remote medical emergency situations.

Capsule robots

These are miniaturized endoscopes that can be used in many diagnostic tests, surgeries or for drug delivery. They can be manipulated via magnetic interactions, allowing for an untethered design with enormous freedom of movement, and are extremely small, causing less tissue damage and fast accessibility.

Microbots

Microbots, though far in the future, are a potential advancement which do not require any incision at all, but could be introduced into the circulation and transported to a specific destination.

Conclusion

Microrobots are very different from the earlier master-slave systems, without physical connection to the operator, with much greater access, and with the potential for contained propulsion, consistent imaging, accuracy of telemanipulation and miniaturized functionality. When these issues are addressed, microrobots could revolutionize surgery.

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