Surgery Robotics Technology Development

Over the past decade, robots have been appearing in the operating room. Robotic technology is now regularly used to aim endoscopes in minimally invasive surgery and to guide instruments to tumors in brain surgery. The use of a robot to shape bones in hip replacement surgery was one of the groundbreaking applications. Base on three dimensional (3D) computed tomography images, the surgeon plans the location of the prosthetic replacement joint within the femur.

In surgery, the robot moves a high speed cutting tool to form the precise shape specified in the pre-surgical plan. The result is a far better fit between the bone and replacement joint than has been possible with conventional hand held cutting instruments.

One reason surgical applications are progressing quickly is the large technology base that has been developed in robotics research in the past three decades. Result in mechanical design, kinematics, control algorithms, and programming that were developed for industrial robots are directly applicable to many surgical applications. Robotic researchers have also worked to enhance robotic capabilities through adaptability and autonomy. The resulting sensing and interpretation techniques that are proving useful in surgery include methods for image processing, spatial reasoning and planning, and real-time sensing and control.

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