Thursday, May 23, 2024

Sony’s microsurgery assistance robot stitches a corn kernel

Sony’s latest surgical robot is a groundbreaking innovation in super-microsurgery. With the ability to seamlessly switch between tools, it has already proven successful in animal surgery

This robot is designed to assist in the intricate field of super-microsurgery, a highly specialized field in which surgeons operate on extremely small blood vessels and nerves, requiring unparalleled precision and steady hands. Surgeons in this field often operate under a microscope to ensure the utmost accuracy.

The use of surgical robots from companies like Intuitive Surgical and Stryker is revolutionizing the field of surgery. These teleoperation tools allow surgeons to enhance their vision and reduce hand motions, making delicate procedures more accessible to a wider range of medical professionals. 

This technology eliminates the need for super-microsurgeons to possess exceptional physical dexterity and coordination. With a proficient surgical robot, a broader spectrum of individuals can perform intricate tasks using larger, less precise movements.

Sony’s advanced camera and TV technology provide a distinct advantage in precise imaging. The robot, currently in the prototype stage, is a low-latency remote surgery device. Surgeons utilize squeeze-sensitive, pen-like controllers and observe real-time effects through a small, stereoscopic 4K 3D camera system. This system streams live vision to a pair of OLED screens, creating a strapless, desk-mounted set of VR goggles that the surgeon can comfortably use.

Sony’s small, lightweight controls allow surgeons to perform high-precision tasks, such as inserting a needle into a tiny blood vessel, while seamlessly handling larger movements like pulling threads. This eliminates the need to change scale and allows for efficient and precise surgical procedures.

This robot possesses the unique ability to seamlessly switch between multiple instruments, akin to a surgical assistant handing tools to a surgeon. Upon request, it can swiftly exchange tools and return to the operating site within 10 seconds, ensuring minimal disruption to the procedure.

Surgeons, including Dr. Hisako Hara, have expressed admiration for the robot‘s ability, noting that they were able to operate it with the same level of dexterity as traditional surgical instruments.

The prototype underwent testing at Achi Medical University (AMU) in February, where it showcased its capacity to make super-microsurgery accessible to non-specialists. Both doctors and non-specialized medical staff successfully performed an anastomosis, creating surgical connections between two tubes on animal blood vessels measuring about 0.6 mm (0.02 in) in diameter.

“It takes months to years of extensive training for even skilled physicians to master this technique,” says AMU Professor Munekazu Naito. “In this collaborative study, Sony’s surgical assistance robot technology was tested to assess its capacity to enhance the skills of novice microsurgeons. The results demonstrated exceptional control over the movements of inexperienced physicians, enabling them to perform intricate and delicate tasks with adeptness akin to that of seasoned experts.”

In the future, Sony aims to collaborate with university medical departments and medical institutions to advance and validate the efficiency of robotic surgical assistance technology. Through ongoing research and development, the company is dedicated to addressing medical challenges and enhancing the field of medicine by offering robotic technologies.