11 May 2016

A roboticist sews better than a doctor

Autonomous robot surgeon performed surgery on soft tissues almost without human help

Anatoly Alizar, Giktimes

Every year, more than 45 million soft tissue surgeries are performed in the United States alone. Such operations are difficult even for an experienced surgeon – you have to work with soft and malleable material. The edges of the material are uneven, and it is very difficult to choose the best point for threading the needle on each seam.

Nevertheless, specialists from the Washington Children's National Medical Center have designed a robot that successfully performed such an operation. He even surpassed a professional surgeon in the accuracy of suturing.

For the tests, an operation was performed to impose an intestinal anastomosis (the connection of two tubular sections of the intestine) – a standard procedure that ends many operations on the intestine. When applying such seams, it is important to observe clear gaps between the seams and not to pull the thread too much.

The Smart Tissue Autonomous Robot (STAR) is specially designed for soft tissue surgery. The video shows how a mechanical hand stitches, carefully aiming with the help of a computer vision system (infrared cameras are guided by fluorescent markers outlined on the fabric). The human assistant mainly helps to straighten the thread so that it does not get tangled when it is stretched through the fabric.


A detailed examination of the stitches showed that the robot coped with the operation even better than a human. To check, the sewn gut was connected to the pump and checked what pressure the seams would withstand. The robot's seam withstood more pressure.

Seven days after the operation, no complications were noticed in the experimental pig.

The scientific work was published on May 4, 2016 in the journal Science Translational Medicine (Shademan et al., Supervised autonomous robotic soft tissue surgery, in the public domain).

In general, robots have been used in surgery for a long time, usually to perform the most precise operations with tiny instruments, but at the same time the surgeon controls the operation by watching through a monitor. The new STAR robot is an almost completely autonomous system. It is for such systems of automatic repair of the human body that the future of medicine lies.

The robot will not allow stupid human mistakes, which unfortunately happen very often in surgery.

Portal "Eternal youth" http://vechnayamolodost.ru  11.05.2016

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