A Robot Has Successfully Performed Surgery Without Human Assistance
By Alexa Heah, 28 Jan 2022
Researchers have announced that a robot successfully performed laparoscopic surgery on pigs without any assistance from human doctors. In fact, the team posited the robot surgeon was “significantly better” than its human counterparts.
At Johns Hopkins University, the Smart Tissue Autonomous Robot (STAR) carried out the keyhole surgery, connecting two ends of an intestine in four pigs. The study, which was published in Science Robotics, noted that the robot was adept at completing the task, despite it requiring a high level of precision.
“Our findings show that we can automate one of the most intricate and delicate tasks in surgery: the reconnection of two ends of an intestine,” said Axel Krieger, a researcher at the university.
“The Star performed the procedure in four animals and it produced significantly better results than humans performing the same procedure,” he added.
According to CNET, connecting both ends of an intestine, known as intestinal anastomosis, is one of the most challenging steps of gastrointestinal surgery. If an unexpected event occurs midway through the procedure, the robot surgeon has to be able to react quickly.
The site noted that soft-tissue surgery has been considered a leap for robots to perform, due to its highly unpredictable nature.
Krieger revealed that the robot was an improvement on an earlier model, which didn’t work as independently.
The new features of the Star allowed for better precision, more specialized tools, and a new imaging system that allowed for more accurate mapping of the surgical field, as per The Guardian.
“What makes the Star special is that it is the first robotic system to plan, adapt, and execute a surgical plan in soft tissue with minimal human intervention,” he explained.
“We hypothesize that this will result in a democratized surgical approach to patient care with more predictable and consistent patient outcomes,” summed up Krieger.
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