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First Use of Miniaturized Robots in Human Surgery

By HospiMedica International staff writers
Posted on 22 Mar 2016
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Image: The Virtual Incision RASD robotic platform (Photo courtesy of Virtual Incision).
Image: The Virtual Incision RASD robotic platform (Photo courtesy of Virtual Incision).
A miniaturized robotically assisted surgical device (RASD) has been used successfully for the first time in humans for colon resection.

The Virtual Incision (Pleasanton, CA, USA) RASD robotic platform features a small, self-contained surgical device that is inserted through a single midline umbilical incision in the patient’s abdomen. The technology is designed to utilize existing tools and techniques familiar to surgeons, and does not require a dedicated operating room or specialized infrastructure. The robot is also expected to be significantly less expensive than existing robotic alternatives for laparoscopic surgery, and will enable a minimally invasive approach to surgeries that are performed today using a large open incision.

The primary indication of the platform is currently colon resection procedures in patients with diverticulitis, Crohn’s disease, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), and colon cancer. Approximately two-thirds of the two million resection procedures performed annually at this time involve an open surgical procedure with up to six weeks of recovery time. Because of the complicated nature of the procedure, existing robotically assisted surgical devices are rarely used, and manual laparoscopic approaches are only used in one-third of cases due to their difficulty and complexity.

“To the best of our knowledge, this is the first time an active miniaturized robot has performed complex surgical tasks with the robot inside a living human, which is a significant milestone in robotics and in surgery,” said Shane Farritor, co-founder and chief technical officer of Virtual Incision. “The robotically assisted colon resection procedures were completed in Asunción, Paraguay, as part of the safety and feasibility trial for the technology. The surgeries were successful and the patients are recovering well.”

“Virtual Incision’s robotically assisted surgical device achieved proof-of-concept in highly complex abdominal procedures,” said head surgeon Dmitry Oleynikov, DM, chief of minimally invasive surgery at the University of Nebraska Medical Center (Omaha, USA), and co-founder of Virtual Incision. “Additionally, we verified that our extensive regimen of bench, animal, cadaver, biocompatibility, sterilization, electrical safety, software, human factors and other testing enabled the safe use of this innovative technology.”

Related Links:

Virtual Incision
University of Nebraska Medical Center

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