Scientists have announced a major milestone in robotic surgery after a-semi autonomous robot was able to successfully stitch animal intestines, which is a challenging body part to work on.
According to a report published in Science Translational Medicine, the robot was able to conduct a successful surgery inside a living animal.
Surgeries on intestines are challenging because the organ is soft, slippery and easy to puncture.
The research was conducted at Children’s National Hospital in Washington, DC and John Hopkins University in Baltimore.
With the latest breakthrough, researchers said that they believe robots will soon be able to outperform human surgeons, especially in problematic environments such as a space station.
The team suggest that surgery in the future may be performed by robots overseen by a trained human.
However, some experts claimed that robotic surgery is less reliable than surgeries conducted completely by human doctors.
The team built a machine they called the Smart Tissue Autonomous Robot, or STAR. The robot possesses suturing tools as well as three-dimensional imaging, positioning and force sensing technology.
“With all of these components, the authors were able to use STAR for soft tissue surgery—a difficult task for a robot given tissue deformity and mobility,” the authors wrote in the report.
“Surgeons tested STAR against manual surgery… and found that the supervised autonomous surgery offered by the STAR system was superior.”
The system is similar to facial tracking softwares used by Hollywood studios to create computer generated images.
The robot can perform extremely accurate surgeries by imaging and positioning an organ, it can detect and follow certain markers in the flesh.
The STAR system is not yet available for use in humans, but researchers are hopeful that it will be in the future.
“By taking human intervention out of the equation, autonomous robots could potentially reduce complications and improve the safety and efficacy of soft tissue surgeries,” said the American Association for the Advancement of Science, which published the study.