Robotic Surgery

Not as amazing as it sounds at the moment – I see it progressing in 3 broad steps:

  1. Assisted surgery – where we are now (2018) – provides additional visibility and accuracy to surgeons
  2. Damage avoidance – robotic system steps in to prevent surgeon going outside pre-planned limits
  3. Automated surgery – fully automatic surgery overseen by human surgeon (initially)

More info coming soon.

See videos in video library.


Virtual Incision –
Focused on developing an advanced, miniaturized robot for general surgery abdominal procedures, such as colon resections.

Titan Medical Inc. –
Titan is developing the SPORT™ (Single Port Orifice Robotic Technology) Surgical System for use in minimally invasive surgery (“MIS”).

Latest News

8 Types of Robotic Surgery Being Used Today – Nanalyze – 20-Jul-2018
Mazor Robotics spine surgery
Accuray radiosurgery for tumours.
Intuitive Surgical’s da Vinci is removing gallbladders.
Auris Health robotic endoscope
PROCEPT BioRobotics removes enlarged prostate tissue.
Medrobotics for ear, nose and throat surgeries.
THINK Surgical for orthopaedic surgery.
Restoration Robotics for hair loss.

Robot First: Operating On A Human Eye – Futurism – 18-Jun-2018
Clinical trial of PRECEYES Surgical System started in 2016.
Robot is designed to assist surgery on the retina.
Doesn’t suffer from hand tremors like human surgeons.
Unfamiliarity meant it took three times longer than usual.
Precision reduces risks and may enable new types of surgery.
Results of trial in the journal Nature Biomedical Engineering.]

Machines may replace traditional medical stitching – Nursing Times – 31-May-2018
Sutrue has developed a handheld device and an endoscopic robot.
Can produce rows of sutures, tie knots and sew around corners.
Handles tissues as they stretch and twist unpredictably.
Claims devices cut human error by making the process simpler and more accurate.
Reduces suturing from 25 seconds to a one-third of a second per stitch.

First use of Medineering Robotic Endoscopy system – Mass Device – 26-Apr-2018
Robotic Endoscopy system used in its first clinical procedure.
Won CE Mark approval in the European Union last year.
Supports surgeons during minimally invasive ear, nose and throat surgery.
Provides clear and stable image, leaving two hands available.

Vicarious Surgical raises $17m VR robot-assisted surgery device – Mass Device – 17-Apr-2018
Ccombines virtual reality with proprietary human-like surgical robotics.
Improves visibility and accuracy in minimally invasive surgery.
Enables surgeons to perform operations through a single micro-incision.
Proceeds are earmarked for continued development and team expansion

Robotic device revolutionises knee surgery at London hospital – Evening Standard – 4-Apr-2018
Hand-held robot is revolutionising knee replacement surgery.
Uses 3D infra-red technology to improve accuracy.
Being pioneered at Central Middlesex hospital in Harlesden.
Navio system combines a drill with an infra-red sensor.
Beams an image from inside the knee on to a screen.

Robot Passes Chinese Medical Licensing Exam – Futurism – 20-Nov-2017
Xiaoyi is a robot developed by leading Chinese AI company iFlytek.
Has recently taken and passed the national medical licensing examination.
Will assist human doctors to improve their efficiency in future treatments.
Robot will be launched in March 2018.

Japanese surgical robot aims to challenge da Vinci – The Robot Report – 30-Oct-2017
Riverfield Surgical Robot Laboratory raises $10 million for Emaro robot-assisted surgery platform.
Based on technology developed at the Tokyo Institute of Technology.
Plans to sell at half the price of Intuitive Surgical’s da Vinci robot.
Uses pneumatics to drive its robotic arm instead of electric motors.

Autonomous Robot Beats Human Surgeons At Flesh-Cutting – Spectrum – 13-Oct-2017
Smart Tissue Autonomous Robot (STAR) makes more precise cuts than expert surgeons.
Also damages less of the surrounding flesh.
Irregular soft tissue can resist a cutting tool and then give way abruptly.
STAR visually tracks both its intended path and its cutting tool.
Semi-autonomous as follows tiny marks placed on the tissue beforehand.

Robot dentist fits implants without any human involvement – South China Morning Post – 21-Sep-17
Medical staff present but did not play an active role.
Implants fitted to within a margin of error of 0.2-0.3mm.
China has a shortage of qualified dentists reulting in frequent surgical errors.
Before operation patient was fitted with position orientation equipment.
Robot was able to compensate for the patient’s own movements.
The artificial teeth it implanted were 3D printed.

The robot that eliminates cancer cells using X-rays – DAWN – 5-Sep-2017
CyberKnife uses X-ray cameras to monitor the position of the tumour and moves with the patient’s breathing.
Has 360 degrees movement and can administer a larger dose of radiation more precisely.
Therefore fewer sessions are necessary.
Radiosurgery lasts 30-45 minutes and does not require anaesthesia.
Currently only 6 machines in the UK.

KUKA’s New Medical Robot Enters Market – Engineering – 31-Aug-2017
KUKA’s LBR iiwa industrial robot, is designed for delicate assembly work.
The LBR Med is the first robotic component approved for integration into a medical product.
After certification, it can serve as a base for many medical devices. It is ideal for bone surgery.
KUKA is shipping the first orders for this robot in September 2017.

World’s smallest surgical robot to start a hospital revolution – The Guardian – 20-Aug-2017

Versius will slash costs, improve patient recovery times and help speed up keyhole surgery.
Robot mimics the human arm and can be used to carry out a wide range of laparoscopic procedures.
Controlled by a surgeon at a console guided by a 3D screen in the operating theatre.
Takes up about a third of the space of current machines.
No more expensive than non-robotic keyhole surgery.
Current robots cost £2m each plus £3,000 per procedure.
Cambridge Medical Robotics working with NHS and private hospitals to introduce the robots.

Smaller, smarter, softer robotic arm for endoscopic surgery – Harvard Paulson School – 2-Aug-2017
Bioinspired approach combines pop-up fabrication with soft robotics.
Endoscopes rely on rigid surgical tools to manipulate or remove tissue.
Harvard University researchers have developed a hybrid rigid-soft robotic arm.
The arm lies flat on an endoscope until needed at the desired spot.

Robots Will Soon Replace Doctors In Healthcare – Forbes – 10-Jul-2017
Current surgical robots make ths job easier for a human surgeon.
Next generation of personal healthcare robots will make use AI to act as your domestic nurse.
Reminding patients about medication, coaching them through their chronic illness and communicating with healthcare professionals.

Stormram 4 – smallest MRI-compatible 3D printed biopsy robot – 3ders – 30-Jun-2017
Poised to have a major impact on diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer.
Manual breast biopsies can be a difficult procedure.
Previous robotic solutions limited due to the strong magnetic field of MRA scanners.
Stormram 4 is 3D printed entirely from plastic and runs on air pressure instead of electricity.

A robotic doctor is gearing up for action – PHYS – 27-Jun-2017
Robot at remote site has force, humidity and temperature sensors.
Doctor able to feel what the remote robot feels.
Has three screens at desk showing the doctor’s hand on the patient, one for teleconferencing and the third displaying ultrasonography.
Telemedicine exams could save time for patients and clinics.

Surgeons would use robots if they reduced the risks – The conversation – 22-Jun-2017
Very little research exists into the frequency of unintentional surgical damage.
Could happen in as many as 1 in 5 procedures.
Majority of surgeons said they would be prepared to use robotic tools if they reduced the risks of injury to patients.
Semi-autonomous robotic tools would allow surgeons to concentrate on deciding what is wrong with the patient and how to treat it.

TransEnterix robotic surgery system expands to hernia repairs – WRAL – 22-Mar-2017
Its Senhance Robotic Surgical System now includes a full range of hernia repairs.
US and Europe each estimated to perform 1 million hernia operations in 2017.
Senhance is a multi-port robotic system that allows multiple arms to control instruments and an eye-sensing camera with haptic feedback.
Already granted a CE Mark and aiming for FDA approval in 2017.

$500 device has same functionality as a surgical robot – MIT Technology Review – 23-Feb-2017
FlexDex Surgical instrument capable of making small incisions and stitching in the body.
Mounts to a surgeon’s arm and operates like an extension of the arm.
Traditional handheld laparoscopic tools have a limited range of motion move in the opposite direction to the surgeon’s hands.
Functions without a motor or computer chip.
Developed by researchers at the University of Michigan.
Video of device:

This Robot Surgeon Is Outperforming Human Doctors (VIDEO) – Vocativ – 14-Feb-2017
Dr. Peter Kim, Sheikh Institute for Pediatric Surgical Innovation, explains STAR.
STAR = Smart Tissue Autonomous Robot
Goal is to enhance surgeons’ capacity and capability.
Uses advanced 3D infra-red imaging to see its subjects.
In future could use combined wisdom of many surgeons and operate with greater accuracy.
Academic paper: IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering

China’s medical robots take on foreign rivals – CCTV – 13-Feb-2017
Tinavi’s Phecda surgery robot has 3D HD and can guide medical tools to within 0.8 millimeters.
Medical robots are highlighted in the country’s Made in China 2025 strategy.
By 2050, more than 400 million Chinese will be over 60 years old.

Advanced robotic system will become surgeon’s right hand – – 10-Feb-2017
University of California San Diego engineers are developing robots to be an integral part of the surgical team.
Human surgeons still needed to decide what treatment is best or how procedure should be performed.
Could reduce number of surgeons needed to operate da Vinci Surgical System.
COMMENT: looks like we’re one step closer to fire-and-forget automated robotic surgeons

Cambridge Medical Robotics reveals Versius robotic surgery system – EconoTimes – 12-Dec-2016
Cadaveric trials underway to perform upper GI, gynaecological, colorectal and renal surgery.
Already able to visualise and access all these surgical workspaces.
Has demonstrated tissue manipulation, suturing, needle driving and electro-surgery.
Has been used by 32 surgeons.

First robotic surgical system with sense of touch – ZDnet – 28-Sep-2016
Deakin University in Melbourne has unveiled the HeroSurg robot which gives surgeons haptic feedback.
Improves the ability to distinguish between normal tissue and tissue affected by cancer.
Tactile feedback allows surgeons to use finer and more delicate sutures in microsurgery.
Also comes with automatic collision avoidance.

Robot operates inside eye in world first – BBC News – 9-Sep-2016
Surgeon controlled robot via a joystick to remove a membrane one hundredth of a millimetre thick.
Robot has seven motors and filters out surgeon’s hand tremors.
Normally the operation causes some haemorrhage to the retina.
In future hope to do more complex and delicate operations that are impossible with the human hand.
Developed by Dutch company Preceyes – aiming for market entry in 2018.
COMMENT: still a glorified instrument rather than a self-driven robot – but the more its used the more likely it could be automated in future.

FDA approves new medical robot from Auris Surgical – IEEE Spectrum – 7-Jun-2016
Teleoperated ARES robot (Auris Robotic Endoscopy System) was cleared by the FDA at the end of May.
ARES navigated the airways of all 15 trial patients without adverse effects.
Robotics can add more precision and maintain good ergonomics for the surgeon.
Stealthy startup is led by Frederic Moll – co-founder of industry leader Intuitive Surgical.
Looking to expand the applicability of robotics to a broad spectrum of medical procedures.
Focusing on endolumenal surgery which involves surgeons introducing flexible robots via the body’s natural openings.

First step towards autonomous robotic surgeons – BBC News – 4-May-2016
Unmanned Star robot has been used to stitch together a pig’s bowel.
Other systems (e.g. da Vinci) are really extension tools controlled by a surgeon.
Robot performed slightly better than skilled humans in terms of stitch positioning.
Dr Kim: “This machine will consistently throw in 20 perfect sutures.”

Incisionless Robotic Surgery Makes The Cut – Asian Scientist – 18-Mar-2016
Run by internal micro-motors and is capable of single incision or incision-less surgery.
Up to ten degrees of freedom in movement with feedback of tactile sensations.
Successfully operated on live pig.

1st real human use for inside-the-body surgical robot – Mass Device – 3-Mar-2016
Virtual Incision’s miniaturized robotically assisted surgical device used in a colon resection procedure.
Designed to operate entirely within the abdominal cavity via a single surgical incision.
Uses existing tools and techniques without the need for dedicated operating facility.
COMMENT: soon all you’ll need is a robot, a nurse and scalpel – surgery any time, anywhere

Snake-like robot more accurate than surgeon – Computer World – 2-Mar-2016
Medrobotics Flex Robotic System has sub-millimeter accuracy.
Articulated construction allows surgeons to operate through winding paths.
Medical students and non-surgeons can learn to use it very quickly.
Damages less tissue and reduces the possibility of infection.

Da Vinci robot performs 500th operation at Liverpool hospital – Liverpool Echo – 5-Feb-2016
Mainly used for prostate cancer surgery.
Enables key hole surgery resulting in smaller scars and less complications.
Robotic arms controlled by surgeon – more accurate and steady.
Of course I’m looking forward to when the machine can be trained to do it itself which will massively increase the number of operations that could be performed.

The Man Behind Medrobotics’ Flex Robotic System – R&D Mag – 29-Jan-2016
Prof. Howie Choset’s snake-arm robot used on first human in 2010.
Combines the benefits of both the rigid laparoscope and the flexible endoscope
Medrobotics received FDA clearance in July 2015 for transoral procedures.
Device’s head has a high-definition video camera ports for surgical tools.
Some procedures could be relegated to non-surgeons.

Medtech wins FDA nod for ROSA spine robot – MassDevice – 6-Jan-2016
Designed for minimally invasive spinal surgeries.
ROSA platform is shared with its brain system.
1st commercial procedure was performed in December, 2014

World’s first soft-robotic surgery on a human body – King’s College London – 29-Dec-2015
Conventional surgical robots based on structures made from rigid components which only move in straight lines.
Stiffness controllable Flexible and Learnable manipulator for surgical operations (STIFF-FLOP) robot enables elongation and bending in all directions.
Mimics an octopus’ ability to move its tentacles, enabling the robot to squeeze through narrow openings and past delicate organs without damaging them.
Team used the robot to operate on human cadavers as well as medical manikins.

Surgical Robot Challenge 2016 Now Open For Entries – DOTmed – 18-Dec-2015
Competition showcases cutting-edge advances in surgical robot technologies.
Prize fund of 10,000 GBP
2015 competition attracted 20 international teams – winner was a miniature snake-like robot.
Organised by the EPSRC UK-RAS Network of leading UK universities that specialise in Robotics and Autonomous Systems.
Finals held June 2016 at Hamlyn Symposium on Medical Robotics in London as part of UK Robotics Week.

Founder of Google’s Stealthy Surgical Robotics Project Speaks – Backchannel – 14-Dec-2015
This is what everybody is really dreaming of when we talk about robotic surgery!
Babak Parviz developed Google’s contact lenses that can measure glucose levels for diabetics.
Explains the vision he took with him to Google in 2010.
Existing medical robots are largely remote control devices controlled by human surgeons.
Machines can do things much faster, both mechanically and even decision making, as well as more accurately.
For thousands of years, one human surgeon has trained another human surgeon – robot surgeons could be mass produced bring advanced healthcare to the poorest of nations.
Could this be what Google’s spinoff Verb Surgical is partnering with Johnson and Johnson to deliver?

Google’s Secretive Robot-Surgery Startup – Wired – 10-Dec-2015
Collaboration with Johnson & Johnson aims to make robots better surgical assistants.
Scott Huennekens, former president of heart imaging company Volcano Corporation, will lead Verb Surgical as CEO.
Over a hundred people have been recruited.
Aims to develop a comprehensive surgical solutions platform.

3D Curriculum To Standardize Robotic Surgery Training – Science 2.0 – 2-Dec-2015
Florida Hospital Nicholson Cente has developed the Fundamentals of Robotic Surgery (FRS) program.
Based on 25 outcome measures developed by 14 specialties.
The best robotic surgeons have a combination of cognitive knowledge, psychomotor skills and management capabilities.

Cambridge Medical Robotics unveils next-generation robotic surgery – Cambridge News – 24-Nov-2015
Modular surgical system that uses multiple collaborative robotic arms for universal minimal access surgery.
3D high-definition imagery.
Force feedback.
Fully manoeuvrable wristed system.
Small form factor.
Low price.

Robotic worm used in head surgery – Novus Light Technologies Today – 4-Nov-2015
Removing tumors from within the inner ear currently entails removal of entire mastoid bone.
German researchers are developing miniature robot named NiLiBoRo which stands for “Non-linear Drilling Robot.
First to be able to drill around corners.
System can adjust its path while drilling through bone to avoid blood vessels and nerves.
Current prototype is 5x scale.
Hope to test with physicians in 2017.

Navio robotic tool cuts recovery time for partial knee replacements – Lubbock Online – 19-Oct-2015
Grace Health System invests in Navio Surgical System from Blue Belt Technologies.
Surgeon chooses from a number plans suggested by the robot.
Robot then aids precision by limiting bone removel to agreed area.
Dr. Jeff Headrick says the technology helps guide him through the procedure and minimizes recovery time.
Average cost of Navio robot is $425,000 to $450,000.

Hackensack UMC offers Mazor Robotics Renaissance spine surgery  – GlobeNewswire – 6-Oct-2015
clinically validated to ensure 1.5mm accuracy for increased patient safety.
Surgery planned in a CT-based 3-D simulation of the patient’s spine.
Renaissance guides the surgeon’s hand and tools to the precise pre-planned location.
Minimally-invasive procedures can mean less pain, smaller incisions, shorter hospitalizations and faster recovery for patients.

Robotic prostate surgery reduces impotence and incontinence – Health 24 – 21-Sep-2015
Urology Hospital, Pretoria, has completed almost 400 successful robotic prostatectomies with Da Vinci surgical robot.
Precision of robotic surgery means vital nerves may be preserved more easily.
Recovery time also improved – normal daily activities resumed sometimes within a week  compared to six weeks with manual surgery.

Da Vinci robot excellent investment for Royal Blackburn Hospital – Lancashire Telegraph – 13-Sep-2015
Used to treat prostate cancer patients.
Far quicker recovery times. Cost £1.3million.

Mechanical wrist the width of a sewing needle – Vanderbilt University – 23-Jul-2015
Microlaparoscopy is so difficult that only a handful of surgeons around the world use it. This mechanical wrist provides the dexterity to perform complex operations using keyhole surgery. Imagine when a robot is trained to use tiny instruments with the  – surgical scars will be a thing of the past.

Johnson & Johnson and Google to create an innovative robotic-assisted surgical platform – Johnson & Johnson – 26-Mar-15

Robotic tentacle targets keyhole surgery – BBC News – 14-May-15
Lack of rigid skeleton allows it to bend, stretch and switch between flexible and rigid states. AImed at minimally invasive surgery.



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