Robots have their clumsy moments, but most of the time, we know what to expect from them. That’s because unlike humans, they work like clockwork, respecting a well-thought program. So, it’s no wonder that in an operating room, a robotic surgical arm can be much more precise than a human one. In fact, doctors in UK found out it can be 10 times more efficient in eye surgeries #machinemagic
Dutch engineering company Preceyes devised a robotic surgical device that was put to work in a recent trial held at a UK hospital. For a procedure that involved the removal of the membrane from the retina, 12 patients were divided into two groups. One group underwent a traditional, all-human-controlled procedure, while the second group led the robot perform the surgery.
Rest assured, the robot didn’t act alone. A human surgeon controlled the movements of the robot using a joystick and touchscreen. The robotic device could move in just three directions: up or down, left or right and toward the head or toward the feet. Its advantage was the extreme precision it could employ – movements of just 1 micron. This was essential for the trial, since the membrane is about 10 microns thick and needs to be removed without scarring the retina. The robot had to operate through a single hole in the lens smaller than one millimeter in diameter.
Fortunately, the robot passed its test with flying colors: “We have demonstrated safety in a delicate operation. The system can provide high precision [at] 10 microns in all three primary [directions], which is about 10 times more precise than what a surgeon can do,” said Dr. Marc de Smet, who helped design the robot. If that wasn’t an accomplishment in itself, then hear us out: this event also marked the first ever robot-assisted eye surgery.
Thanks to the precision of the device, the patients that went under the robotic “knife” had fewer hemorrhages and less retina damage.