Researchers, including an Indian-origin, claimed to have developed the world’s first robotic surgical system that can give surgeons the sense of touch while they conduct keyhole surgery using a computer.
The HeroSurg robot is a major breakthrough to current technology, which now limits robotic surgery to the sense of sight, and means laparoscopic or keyhole/micro surgery will be safer and more accurate than ever before by reducing trauma and lowering risk of blood loss and infection.
The robot was developed by engineers from Harvard University in the US, Deakin University in Australia, along with an honorary professor at Institute for Intelligent System Research and Innovation (IISRI) and Suren Krishnan from the Royal Adelaide Hospital.
Krishnan said that HeroSurg’s addition of the sense of touch, provided through technology known as haptic feedback, would lead to better patient outcomes. “The major drawback of the current system is the lack of tactile feedback.”
He said, “Tactile feedback allows a surgeon to differentiate between tissues and to ‘feel’ delicate tissues weakened by infection or inflammation and dissect them more carefully. Tactile feedback will allow us to use finer and more delicate sutures in microsurgery.”
Krishnan said the haptics technology would also improve the ability to distinguish between tissues involved with cancer from normal tissue.
The head researcher of the project, Mohsen Moradi Dalvand, a visiting scholar at Harvard, said that the haptic feedback improved safety and allowed specific manoeuvres and diagnoses to be performed with greater confidence. He said that the robot’s unique features which allow it to overcome many of the limitations of existing robotic laparoscopic systems, include collision avoidance capability, modularity and automatic patient/bed adjustment. Other unique HeroSurg features include high-resolution 3D images, an increased range of motion for the surgeon, and a more ergonomic workstation console. IISRI Director Professor Saeid Nahavandi said HeroSurg could be used remotely, with the surgeon potentially thousands of kilometers away from the actual theater.