sciencefriday | Forget about finding the best surgeon in town. Why not undergo your operation by a robot, which has learned from the best, without the element of human error? Researchers have now developed a robot that can perform sutures and other delicate operations completely autonomously. But would you trust it? Physician Peter Kim and his colleagues recently detailed their invention, which they call the Smart Tissue Autonomous Robot, in Science Translational Medicine. Kim says his goal is to get the robot into hospitals nationwide by keeping the price well below the cost of the surgeon-assisted robots used today.
technologyreview | A robot surgeon has been taught to perform a delicate procedure—stitching soft tissue together with a needle and thread—more precisely and reliably than even the best human doctor.
The Smart Tissue Autonomous Robot (STAR), developed by researchers at Children’s National Health System in Washington, D.C., uses an advanced 3-D imaging system and very precise force sensing to apply stitches with submillimeter precision. The system was designed to copy state-of-the art surgical practice, but in tests involving living pigs, it proved capable of outperforming its teachers.
Currently, most surgical robots are controlled remotely, and no automated surgical system has been used to manipulate soft tissue. So the work, described today in the journal Science Translational Medicine, shows the potential for automated surgical tools to improve patient outcomes. More than 45 million soft-tissue surgeries are performed in the U.S. each year. Examples include hernia operations and repairs of torn muscles.