By Kalwinder Kaur
EU-funded research team develops micro-system technologies and innovative micro-robotics to simplify abdominal surgeries. These surgeries need to be affordable and carried out with minimal invasion.
During recent years, technology-based surgical procedures show rapid improvement. Surgical instruments have now been replaced with robotics, innovative procedures and miniature devices ensuring quick recovery, fewer health risks, and less scarring.
Current abdominal surgeries are either conducted manually by a surgeon through laparoscopy, or assisted by a teleoperated robotic device. Though precise and efficient when compared to a manual method, surgical robot-assisted procedure is expensive and needs incisions within the abdomen.
This current system requires at least four incisions in the abdomen; one for a camera, two for the robotic tools, and one for further maneuvers.
As part of Araknes project titled 'Array of robots augmenting the kinematics of endoluminal surgery' ,Prof Menciassi and a European research team made efforts to develop an approach to abdominal surgery where the beneficial features of robotic surgery is being integrated with that of laparoscopic or key-hole surgery or 'Minimally invasive surgery' (MIS). After receiving € 8.1 M funds from the European Commission, the Araknes team created innovative technologies and devices that can make the surgical procedures less expensive in addition to being less invasive with minimal scarring and reduced risk of infection, ensuring rapid patient recovery period.
Araknes developed the 'Single-port laparoscopy bimanual robot' (Sprint), a teleoperated robotic system that promotes high precision to the surgeon’s hands, similar to a DaVinci system. The system is designed for 'Single-port laparoscopy' (SPL) that requires single incision through the patient's navel.
Sprint includes two arms with six degrees of freedom of movement having rotating grippers at the end. With high degree of dexterity, it ensures conducting a wide variety of surgical tasks within the patient's body.
The innovative micro-robotics technology consists of motors for leveraging the grippers; the device includes the arm’s 'elbows, while the motors for the 'shoulders' are placed externally.
Araknes team developed another device that can eliminate any kind of incision. The device has been developed for 'Natural orifice translumenal endoscopic surgery' (Notes) and includes a magnetic platform equipped with miniature robotic arms. Using natural orifice, it can be introduced within the patient’s body.
According to Prof Menciassi, these devices can be used for cancerous tumors or for treating heart, liver or kidney diseases.