We recently reported on remotely-performed nerve blocks utilizing a surgical robotic system. In the latest issue of Anesthesia & Analgesia, investigators brought this concept to airway management: the DaVinci Surgical Robot from Intuitive Surgical was used to simulate orotracheal and nasotracheal fiberoptic intubation. Four of the robot’s arms were used: the first held a camera, another grasped the bronchoscope, and two others had graspers that were used to manipulate the bronchoscope controls. The scope was manually placed into the oropharynx, and the DaVinci console was then used to navigate into the hypopharynx and through the vocal cords. The authors also demonstrated a nasotracheal intubation, and each of these mock intubations were done in under 75 seconds.
The article admits that, due to the expense and cumbersome nature of the equipment, this is not likely to become a common clinical practice, but it is an interesting proof of concept. Suggested applications included battlefield and space flight scenarios.
Article abstract: Robot-Assisted Airway Support: A Simulated Case