FDA Approves Robotic Assistant to Help Out in Medical Surgeries

Sunday, 15 October 2017 - 1:16PM
Technology
Medical Tech
Sunday, 15 October 2017 - 1:16PM
FDA Approves Robotic Assistant to Help Out in Medical Surgeries
YouTube/TransEnterix
Most people aren't too bothered by the idea of a "robot assistant" until one's actually opening them up. Heck, they probably don't trust most humans to open them up, and humans are less prone to malfunctions.

But the U.S. Food and Drug Administration trusts robot surgical assistants, as they just officially approved the Senhance System from TransEnterix, a "robotically-assisted surgical device (RASD)" which can be used to help human surgeons perform minimally invasive surgeries. If Senhance catches on, it could have some big implications for the future of medical operations.

You can get a good look at the setup in the image above, but Senhance is essentially a system that lets the surgeon sit comfortably behind a computer screen while they direct the many surgical instruments attached to Senhance's more precise arms. It allows for more accuracy, while still leaving all the important decisions up to the surgeons around the operating table.



So far, the Senhance System seems to be effective. Prior to the FDA's approval, the system was used in a clinical trial of 150 different patients without anything going seriously wrong. That's unlikely to slow down, as the FDA clearance means that Senhance will be finding its way into more real world operations as professional medical assistants. 

Keeping in mind that the word "laparoscopic" is simply a minimally invasive surgery, here's some of the things the FDA has declared Senhance as being capable of:

Opening quote
"The Senhance System is intended to assist in the accurate control of laparoscopic instruments for visualization and endoscopic manipulation of tissue including grasping, cutting, blunt and sharp dissection, approximation, ligation, electrocautery, suturing, mobilization and retraction in laparoscopic colorectal surgery and laparoscopic gynecological surgery.
Closing quote


Since it's still controlled primarily by humans, you shouldn't think of it as a legitimate robot that's artificially intelligent or anything of the sort, but rather a machine that can provide added accuracy for tougher procedures. It's certainly not as risky as the recent dental procedure performed by an autonomous robot in China, which went completely unaided by the humans keeping watch. It's unlikely that sort of thing will catch on as quickly.

And further down the line, it may not be uncommon for robotic Doctor Octopus arms to be aiding surgeons during medical procedures, since the tentacle design is more flexible than the rigid arms of things like the Senhance System. But until then, the robotic Senhance System arms may be more useful than not in your next surgery.

Science
Science News
Technology
Medical Tech
No