Medrobotics has recently created a snake-like surgical robot called the Flex Robotic System in order to streamline operating procedures in complex head and neck surgeries. The device completes major surgeries in hard to reach areas without creating any incisions by entering through the patient’s mouth to reach the target area.
So far the Flex has been used in nineteen head and neck surgeries to eliminate incisions or jaw alterations, leading to much faster recovery time. As a result, these types of procedures are cheaper for the patient, easier for the surgeon, faster to complete, and cause less pain for the patient afterwards.
The Flex is controlled by a surgeon who uses a joystick controller to navigate the snake-like tube carefully down the throat of the patient. A camera is built into the tip of the device to allow the operator to see where they are going and navigate through the bends in the airway. Once the Flex reaches the target area, it stiffens up in order to gain stability for two smaller tubes to enter which hold the instruments. These tubes are able to grasp a variety of surgical tools including scalpels, scissors, grippers, and a needle driver.
To maneuver the Flex once they have reached the operating area, the surgeon uses a combination of controllers, buttons, and foot pedals, which all play a part in the smooth motion of the device. The foot pedals are used to control the overall system’s power, moving the device forward as the pedal is pressed down. Once the surgeon has finished the procedure, their job is done and the Flex takes over to complete the final step. Following the same path the surgeon plotted as they entered the mouth, the Flex is able to steer itself back up the patients throat and out of their body, without human assistance.
When it comes to the health science industry, product quality is essential to ensuring the equipment not only works, but causes no harm to the patient in the process. Eclipse Automation offers a variety of experience with medical devices and systems similar to the Flex, combining enhanced operational procedures with the newest in technological advancements to provide the maximum in patient safety.
Source: IEEE Spectrum