Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Born to be Viral: Watch a surgical robot peel a grape

Human surgeons work miracles on a daily basis, but intricate operations can challenge even the most dextrous of hands. More and more, surgical robots, such as Da Vinci
from Intuitive Surgical in Sunnyvale, CA, are providing a stable assist.
In this video, a urology fellow at Southmead Hospital and the North Bristol NHS Trust in Bristol, UK, peels a grape. Using a specially designed display and teleoperation controls, he is able to see both real and virtual representations of what the robot's instruments are doing. The robot has four arms, three of which can hold instruments like a scalpel or surgical scissors. The fourth arm carries an endoscopic camera with two lenses, which gives him a stereoscopic view of the action.
According to Intuitive Surgical, there are over 1,800 units in use at 1450 hospitals worldwide. They are used in a variety of surgeries, from prostatectomy to heart valve repair. They excel at what is known as "keyhole" surgery - procedures that leave little scarring. While da Vinci-assisted surgery can be minimally invasive, future medical robots could be much smaller, doing their work from inside the body.
The US department of defense is now looking at incorporating similar robots into "Trauma Pods" - partially automated field hospitals capable of caring for severely wounded soldiers while they wait to be evacuated. In 2009, the da Vinci system was inducted into the robot hall of fame.


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