Believe it or not, robots can now perform surgery with no human assistance! The Smart Tissue Autonomous Robot (STAR), was designed by a team from Johns Hopkins University. The laparoscopic procedure was carried out on the intestine of a pig, as reported this week in Science Robotics.
“Our findings show that we can automate one of the most intricate and delicate tasks in surgery: the reconnection of two ends of an intestine. The STAR performed the procedure in four animals and it produced significantly better results than humans performing the same procedure,” said senior author Axel Krieger.
Normally, keyhole surgeries require a high level of precision and repetitive motion. With even the smallest tremor having the chance of leading to huge complications for the patient.
The challenge behind creating this type of technology previously is the highly unpredictable nature of soft tissue. Although, through the use of a light-based three-dimensional tool, alongside a machine learning algorithm the team was able to overcome this. “What makes the STAR special is that it is the first robotic system to plan, adapt, and execute a surgical plan in soft tissue with minimal human intervention,” Krieger said.
Improving patient outcomes
The team believes that this innovation can reduce the number of surgical complications and deaths from inescapable human error.
Krieger stated: “Robotic anastomosis is one way to ensure that surgical tasks that require high precision and repeatability can be performed with more accuracy and precision in every patient independent of surgeon skill. We hypothesize that this will result in a democratized surgical approach to patient care with more predictable and consistent patient outcomes.”
Source study: Science Robotics – Autonomous robotic laparoscopic surgery for intestinal anastomosis