Machines have been known to have replaced human labor in recent times, mostly because they are efficient and less costly in production. Robots are known to be extra efficient, lower costs and they have a low propensity of making errors when functioning. Well the medical field has not been left behind either; scientists in the US have invented a surgical robot that is specifically designed to stitch up the soft tissues. The robot will definitely create a buzz in the medical field when it comes to performing surgical procedures. The machine depends on human control in order to function, and was able to outperform most experienced human surgeons when operating on specimens: pigs.
According to Peter C Kim, Surgeon in Chief from the Children’s National Health System in Washington, the machine is not intended to replace human surgeons, but it’s intended to improve accessibility to surgical techniques, efficacy, functional outcome, and consistency. The robot will be able to widen the human capacity via enhanced vision and improve surgical outcomes. Robot assisted surgeries have existed for quite some time, but this new technology called Smart Tissue Autonomous Robot (STAR) is intelligent enough to handle the complexity that involves handling the soft tissues. The robot uses novel tissue tracking and applied measurement. This is coupled with automated suture software hence the STAR is able to detect tissues motions in real time and be able to automatically adjust to the changes.
The STAR’s tracking system has been installed with near infrared fluorescent (NIRF) makers that gives the machine a three dimensional sense of view. The robot is able to detect changes in force by use of algorithm and is able to make adjustments in due time. The test experiment involved anastomosis, looking at how STAR and an experienced surgeon each carried out the surgical procedure. The complex surgical procedure of the anastomosis was selected because it’s the most performed form of surgery, with statistics showing over one million anastomosis surgical procedures taking place annually.
The findings were published in the Science Translational Medicine; comparisons were made on time taken to perform the surgery, suturing and number of mistakes made. The STAR performed better at suturing, and had a consistent stitching and minimal mistakes. The STAR took a longer time (35minutes) while the human surgeon took (8minutes). The team of scientists, though, said that the 35 minutes can be reduced by making the STAR perform the operation faster. The STAR is indeed a promising technology when it comes to robot assisted surgeries.
The only challenge will be convincing human patients on the credibility of the machine. Most people are not confident enough that robots can effectively provide medical services, especially when it comes to surgery. The world is yet to understand the importance of technology in medical care. The STAR is a big revolution and a wonderful surgical assistant and will definitely prove to work more efficient. The medical field will be able to experience more efficient, better, faster surgical services and minimal mistakes in surgery.
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