14 June, 2010

Surgical robots


Tiny robots that aid surgical procedures and medical checkups are currently the focus of intense worldwide research. In fact, some of these small-scale devices already are in practical use.

Four Japanese facilities have introduced medical robots using systems developed by U.S. companies, such as the Da Vinci surgical system.

The robots, equipped with arms less than one centimeter long, can move around inside the human body and treat affected areas, echoing ideas first set out in science fiction. The small devices are able to repeat subtle movements precisely, making doctors' lives easier. Furthermore, due to the small size of the robots, patients need only small incisions to undergo major surgery.

The robots' arms operate similarly to human wrists. Surgeons operate, by remote control scalpels and clamps attached to these arms, while viewing the targeted areas on a monitor.

The Tokyo Medical University Hospital uses this technique for cardiac surgery and urology.

The complete system weighs nearly one ton.

According to the Robotics Society of Japan, these kinds of robots, which presently are merely a kind of surgical tool, will become capable of automatically conducting entire medical operations - from diagnosis to treatment - sometime between 2025 and 2050.

“There is less blood loss since the system allows surgery to be more precise,” said Kunihiko Yoshioka, associate professor in urology at the university in Shinjuku, Tokyo.
Source: Yomiuri News, by M. Takata

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