Engineers from the Michigan State University, together with staff from the Dept. of Surgery, have developed a robotic arm to perform breast exams:
Here’s how it will work: A physician or other health-care provider, located in a hospital or clinic, will slip his or her hand into a glove-like instrument. That will allow him or her to move the robotic arm that is with the patient in a remote location.
“That arm, which actually looks like a hand, is equipped with sensors,” said Carol Slomski, chairperson of MSU’s Department of Surgery and co-director of the project. “As the hand touches the patient, the sensation from this touch comes back into my hand. When the robotic fingers feel a lump or some other abnormality, I also feel it.”
The robotic hand will also be equipped with an ultrasound transducer that will collect and transmit back to the health-care provider an image of what he or she is feeling. The system also will have video and audio capabilities, so patient and physician can directly communicate.
“There are so many benefits to this technology,” Slomski said. “Not only does it provide health care for people in remote locations, it also can put an experienced provider at the other end. It’s like getting a secondary consult.
“Just because you’re located in the Upper Peninsula or even Botswana, it doesn’t mean you can’t have a sophisticated diagnostic or therapeutic procedure.”
“Having the capability of ultrasound and palpation simultaneously is a major advantage,” said Ranjan Mukherjee, an associate professor of mechanical engineering who is leading the team building the device. “Often the ultrasound and exam are done separately. But if the physician can look at the image and feel what he or she is seeing, it’s a huge advantage.”
The computers at the two sites are linked through an Internet connection, Mukherjee said.
Paint us old fashioned, as we believe that getting the patient to the doctor is still easier than getting massive robotic components to both of them. On the other hand, it is an interesting tecnology in the works, indeed.
The press release…
(hat tip: WMMNA)