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Autonomous Surgical Robots Take Over OR: Dr Robot Soon A Reality

Update Date: May 05, 2016 06:51 AM EDT

Technology advancements have found their way towards tedious occupations and the latest one in focus is one tied up with health and medicine. This has something to do with a robotic system tasked to aid doctors by doing the actual work that is normally left at the surgeon’s hands.

So does this mean healthcare would soon be left at the hands of robots? Not necessarily. Surgeons will still be needed since they will still be the one to supervise medical procedures and cover certain bases involved in the surgery which robotics may not be able to perform. In short, Surgeons can heave a sigh of relief since the aim of these robotic aids is to merely assist them and not replace them.

In a special case, robotic arms were put to the test when they were involved in an experimental procedure done on pigs. It was found that the robotic arms were able to perform the task well and even better. The report can be found on the Science Translational Medicine journal.

“The purpose wasn’t to replace surgeons,” said Dr. Peter C. W. Kim of Children’s National Health System, a pediatric surgeon who led the project via the Washington Post. “If you have an intelligent tool that works with a surgeon, can it improve the outcome? That’s what we have done.”

The procedure carried out was done using a new STAR (Smart Tissue Autonomous Robot) system. To make it simple, it technically works like a programmable sewing machine.

The team of Dr. Kim team at the Children’s Sheikh Zayed Institute for Pediatric Surgical Innovation were able to build the said system by using a standard robotic arm that is fully equipped with suturing equipment as well as some smart imaging tech that allows them to keep track and moving the tissue in 3-D. There are also sensors to help guide each stitch and tell how tightly to pull.

The robot assistance is seen as something to help improve the manner of which procedures and surgeries are carried out. They are still tools that needed manual intervention though a bit of flak comes in the form of added costs should robotics be used in such cases.

Much of that would depend on the degree of difficulty that patients would need when it comes to undergoing surgery. The chances of success are somehow pushed up but the bottom line is that there is no threat involved in leaving lives at the hands of robots in the future.

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