New Robot Improves Eye Surgery, Does Not Replace Surgeon

“Good morning! I will be your surgeon today, and operating a robot in the adjacent room. Do you have any questions?”

A patient may be alarmed by the notion of a robot involved in their operation, but robotic surgery is the hottest new technology to sweep operating rooms around the world. While surgeons adapt to the new techniques, patients may find difficulty trusting these new machines.

Dutch scientist Thijs Meenink has designed a new robot for eye surgery which he proposes “allows eye surgeons to operate with increased ease and greater precision on the retina and the vitreous humor.” The new device consists of a “master” and slave.” Two joysticks allow the surgeon to operate, unlike just the one that is found on the da Vinci surgical system. Some highlights of the new machine include faster loading of tools and a “haptic” feedback mechanism that allows the ophthalmologist to experience a physical response to their actions. Both of these features are anticipated to reduce surgery time, as well as improve the quality of the procedure.

While the machine assists the surgeon, it does not replace their ability to comfort and reassure the patient there are in the best hands, which is the most important aspect of any procedure.

Meenink hopes to market his new machine after defending his thesis on October 31, 2011.

A full list of features of the new robot can be found here.

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Filed under Physician-patient relationship, Technology

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