A robotic device has been used by Plastic Surgeons at Maastricht University Medical Center in order to surgically treat lymphedema in a patient. This is indeed the world's first super-microsurgical intervention with 'robot hands'.
The surgeons made use of the robotic device to suture vessels of 0.3 to 0.8 millimeter in a patient’s arm. The robotic device, developed by Eindhoven company Microsure, improves the surgeon's accuracy, making this type of procedure easier to execute. The patient is doing good and the Surgeons are enthusiastic. The news of this unexpected operation has been announced at the 26th World Congress of Lymphology in Barcelona.
Lymphedema, a chronic condition in which building up of fluid causes swelling, is considered to be a serious disorder. It frequently occurs as a side effect of breast cancer treatment. A super-microsurgery is a moderately new and potentially much better treatment for lymphedema. In this surgery, lymphatic vessels are connected to blood vessels in order to restore the flow of lymphatic fluid and ease the swelling. However, this intervention is particularly challenging and stressful to execute given the extreme precision needed from the surgeon. Globally, only a few Surgeons have the potential to perform this surgical technique by hand.
Surgeons in Maastricht discovered the solution in Eindhoven. The surgical robot of Microsure, a spin-off of Eindhoven University of Technology and Maastricht University Medical Center, is monitored by a Surgeon whose hand movements are transformed into smaller, more accurate movements which then are executed on the patient by a set of 'robot hands'. The device is also capable of stabilizing any tremor in the Surgeon's movements, which makes the process more controlled and thus a lot easier to perform. The Microsure robot is expected to improve a great number of microsurgical procedures and enhance new interventions that are presently impossible to carry out by hand. This will result in better patient outcome and reduce healthcare costs due to a decreased rate of complication and less post-operative treatment.
Microsure enables us to be very precise in our movements during procedures that need a surgical microscope. Their robot allows us to operate on minuscule lymph vessels and blood vessels with more ease, while getting better results for these complex and fatiguing interventions. Besides it is very convenient that, within microsurgery, we can operate on vessels of every size with this robot. Most importantly, of course, this is good news for the patients concerned.
Shan Shan Qiu Shao, Plastic Surgeon, Maastricht University Medical Center
"We are very pleased and proud that the first intervention using our robot has been a success, and that the surgeons are enthusiastic," says Raimondo Cau, the technical brain of Microsure. "This proves that our technology is a key breakthrough in improving surgical care. As a next step, we aim to assist surgeons during other types of complex microsurgical procedures like tissue reconstructions after removal of a tumor. Using our device they will be able to perform surgery with better precision and fewer complications."