A company that was formed only three years ago has developed the world’s smallest surgical robot which will transform the existing market for surgical robotics.
Cambridge Medical Robotics Ltd, a private company based in Cambridge, UK, has used low-cost technology originally developed for mobile phones and space industries to create the first robotic arm specifically designed to carry out keyhole surgery.
The CMR robotic system called Versius, has a range of tiny 5 mm instruments modelled on human hand and wrist movements and is operated by the surgeon via state-of-the-art 3D high-definition imagery. In addition to great flexibility, the system uses force feedback so the operating procedure feels life-like for surgeons.
Versius is not the first surgical robot, but because of its small size and dexterity Versius can perform a wider range of minimal access (keyhole) procedures than conventional surgical robots.
The global surgical robots market is worth around $4bn and is expected to reach $14.5bn by 2024.
According to a CMR statement, “The system overcomes obstacles to widespread adoption of robotic minimal access surgery, namely robot size, instrument size, versatility, port placement, cost and ease of use, allowing the system to be highly utilized and ultimately cost-comparable to manual laparoscopic surgery.”
With robotically-assisted minimal access surgery, instead of directly holding the instruments, the surgeon uses alternative methods to control the instruments like direct telemanipulation. In the case of the CMR system, the surgeon controls Versius at a console guided by a 3D screen in the operating theatre, according to the CMR website.
Versius is used to carry out laparoscopic procedures – including hernia repairs, colorectal operations, and prostate and ear, nose and throat surgery – in which a series of small incisions are made to circumvent the need for traditional open surgery, reports The Guardian.
Surgeons favor laparoscopic procedures because they reduce complications and pain after surgery and patients recover quicker.
The revolutionary robot is much easier to use than existing systems, and take up about a third of the space of current machines.
For robots to revolutionize surgery, they need to be versatile, easy to use and small so that surgical staff can move them around the operating room or between operating theatres, or pack them away when they are not being used. “Our robot does all of this and is the first robotic arm to be designed specifically for laparoscopic surgery,” Martin Frost, chief executive of the Cambridge Medical Robotics told the Guardian.
Versius has already been tested by 32 surgeons.