A robot has performed laparoscopic surgery on the soft tissue of a pig without the guiding hand of a human. A significant step in robotics toward fully automated surgery on humans. The robot was designed by a team of researchers in Johns Hopkins University and is named the Smart Tissue Autonomous Robot (STAR).
"Our findings show that we can automate one of the most intricate and delicate tasks in surgery. The STAR performed the procedure in four animals and it produced significantly better results than humans performing the same procedure," said senior author and mechanical engineer, Axel Krieger of Johns Hopkins' Whiting School of Engineering.
The STAR excelled at intestinal anastomosis, a procedure that requires a high level of repetitive motion and precision. In such surgeries, a surgeon is required to suture with high accuracy and consistency, without as much of a slightest hand tremor which may lead to a leak that could have catastrophic complications for the patient.
Soft-tissue surgery is especially hard for robots because of its unpredictability, forcing them to be able to adapt quickly to handle unexpected obstacles. The STAR has a novel control system that can adjust the surgical plan in real time, just as a human surgeon would.
STAR is equipped with new features for enhanced autonomy and improved surgical precision, including specialized suturing tools and state-of-the art imaging systems that provide more accurate visualizations of the surgical field.
Researchers believe that as the medical field moves towards more laparoscopic approaches for surgeries, it will be important to have an automated robotic system designed for such procedures to assist. An advanced three-dimensional machine vision system is essential in making intelligent surgical robots smarter and safer, they said.
Robot performs first laparoscopic surgery without