The goal of medical robotics is to enhance the accuracy, precision, and speed of procedures, while minimizing patient trauma and recovery time. Medical robotics looks set to be instrumental in some of the most significant changes in medical and therapeutic treatments. Advances in artificial intelligence and augmented reality are helping to pave the way for some paradigmatic shifts in the way medical professionals interact with patients, and more specifically where they can interact. In this overview, we will look at a few new developments in remote and assisted procedures right across the spectrum of medical robotics.
Adding precision to eye surgery
AI powered robotics are part of a significant development in the provision of specialist technological developments.
AI is the key to unlocking the next level of specialist ability such as eye surgery. A leading company in this field is ForSight Robotics who have developed a system called ORYOM.
ORYOM is a robotic surgery system that allows surgeons to carry out eye surgeries with increased accuracy and precision. The kind of procedures that are co-performed by the robot are typically in high demand and require both exceptional precision and expert execution. The AI-driven computer visualization that ForSight uses, combined with advanced machine learning that collects detailed information from thousands of other procedures, help surgeons improve their technique and deliver more consistent, positive outcomes.
The ORYOM Robotic Hand offers unprecedented dexterity and manoeuvrability through a platform that features a microsurgical robot capable of executing highly delicate tasks. Its hybrid kinematic structure allows access to any part of the human eye. This system is combined with ORYOM’s state-of-the-art stereoscopic imaging technologies that assist in planning, real time image guidance, and unmatched visualization.
Japanese developments in remote robotic surgeries
In Japan, there are some complex regional disparities in health care. This is caused by both a shortage of doctors in more rural areas and the expense of medical equipment that might only be available only in urban areas.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a growth in the need for, and development of, remote health care - especially online diagnosis. However, when it comes to delivering surgical health care, solutions can be few and far between. Patients are forced to travel or wait.
A company called Medicaroid has recently developed an innovative technology for the remote manipulation of their Hinotori surgical robotics system.
With this new technology, the operation unit and surgical unit can be in completely different locations, connected via the network. This way experienced surgeons can remotely provide real-time guidance and support for more novice surgeons.
So far, demonstration tests have been conducted for the purpose of providing support and guidance for remote robotic-assisted surgery (education and training), with the intention of offering fully remote robotic-assisted surgery in the future.
Robot-assisted surgery has become standard across a wide range of medical disciplines. It offers many advantages – from enhanced planning, heightened precision and an all-round better patient experience. Now, a company called Neocis is looking to bring these advantages to the world of dentistry with their dental robot - Yomi.
Yomi is the only FDA-cleared robotic system for dental surgery. Since 2016, their innovative platform has been helping clinicians with implant placement. The system aims to augment their surgical expertise, so they can operate with increased confidence and efficiency.
Yomi uses haptics – technology that provides the user with physical, tactile feedback that guide the clinician, helping them perform more precise surgery and feel more connected and confident during procedures.
Yomi’s proprietary software suite makes same day guided surgery possible and enhances the speed and flexibility of freehand surgery. The system is very clinician-friendly, with ergonomic, stabilizing instrumentation that helps maintain a comfortable posture throughout.
Robotic physio-therapy solutions
Rehabilitation after surgery is also an area where the location of the patient can be a defining issue. Where local expertise and physiotherapy practitioners are not available, without the regular and routine exercises and manipulations, patients can suffer longer recovery times and poor outcomes. Often this means long, regular round trips by either the practitioner or the patient, wasting time and adding to the overall stress of the treatment.
There are various players in this market including Curexo, Harmonic Bionics and H Robotics. The latter company’s new system - Rebless - is an FDA-registered robotic therapy device that can be used on both upper and lower extremities - the elbow, wrist, ankle, and knee joints
The system is a single, highly adaptable device that attaches to the limbs through a series of pads and straps, but which then allows for a wide range of passive, active, active-assisted and resisted training. The use of AI to monitor the range of motion allows the therapy to be immediately responsive to the patient, mirroring the tactile interaction of the practitioner. This way, the therapy can be personalised to each individual patient’s condition and progress, while continually reviewing and recording treatments, all from the comfort of the patient’s home.
Advances in robotics for micro-surgery
Microsurgery typically combines optical magnification through advanced diploscopes, with specialized precision tools and operating techniques. A company called Microsure has developed MUSA - the world’s first clinically available CE-certified surgical robot for microsurgery.
This MUSA system has been developed by a team of engineers and surgeons. So, it is compatible with the latest operating techniques, instruments and other OR-equipment, while integrating the latest robotics, AI and AR.
MUSA integrates seamlessly into the operating theatre and its set-up allows for the use of a hybrid microsurgical procedure as the practitioner is seated alongside patient. MUSA is controlled with joysticks, from an ergonomically comfortable position for better posture. It scales down motion seamlessly and filters out tremors to keep a steady hand throughout every microsurgical procedure.
The company claims that MUSA enhances consistency, reducing operator variability, enabling safer operations and improved treatment outcome for patients.
Another great player in this space is, Virtual Incision. Their MIRA system is the world’s first miniaturized RAS system, designed to offer the benefits of robotic surgery during bowel-resection procedures, without the bulk or logistical inefficiencies of traditional, mainframe robots.
Weighing in at just 2lbs, it offers internal triangulation with shoulders, arms, and infinite wrist roll inside of the body. It can be used in any operating room, so a dedicated mainframe room is unnecessary and it be used as a standalone system or a complementary tool for facilities that already own a mainframe. Potentially every operating room is RAS-ready.
Surgery Meets The Metaverse
A very exciting company is Expanded Existence, who have developed the HoloOPS™ surgical system. HoloOPS™ is a suite of software applications redefining the setup and workflow of the operating room and surgical team. Using mixed reality and machine learning, the Surgical Metaverse will superpower surgical teams, enhance the operating room, and improve patient lives.
Unlike many augmented reality solutions for the Orthopedic and Spine Industry, which focus on the surgeon and specific aspects of surgical procedures, eXeX™ is designed to positively impact the operating room; particularly by enabling the surgical team. The system removes distractions by ensuring instrumentation is available at exactly the right time, with minimal verbal communication. This makes the operating room is consistent, lean, efficient, and calm; allowing the surgeon to focus on delivering the very best surgical care.
As surgical robotics becomes more advanced, it is clear that the issues it will be able to help is broad despite a growing range of challenges – from increasingly complex procedures, such as dentistry and eye surgery, to bringing the latest technology and expertise to remote patients, regardless of location.