The advantages of endoscopic surgery are many. However, there are also drawbacks, especially for surgeons. Consider the following. Endoscopic surgery lacks fine precision due to the rigid nature of the tools. Moreover, because the surgeon is basically operating a lever (the beam being the surgical instrument and the trocar being the fulcrum), the surgeon’s movements are actually operating in opposite direction, which necessitates extensive training.
Robotic surgery has been developed concurrently with the advancement of electronic and computer technologies with a specific goal of solving some intrinsic problems of endoscopic approach. Surgical robots, such as the da Vinci, allow a surgeon to not only work remotely, but to also be able to effortlessly perform delicate procedures with his or her hands because of the robot’s ability to translate large movements by the surgeon into small movements in the corresponding instruments. However, the surgeon does not have any haptic feedback when instruments come in contact with tissue. Moreover, available surgical robots are very expensive and require a lot of space, a luxury that few hospitals have.
Ricardo Beira, a student at Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne in Switzerland, and founder of DistalMotion, has developed a device that brings together benefits of both endoscopic and robotic surgery. The device is completely mechanical and consists of a number of small joysticks, which allow the operation of surgical tools fixed to the end of a metal arm using endoscopic surgical techniques. The joysticks replicate the surgeon’s movements and allow for seven degrees of movement, including wrist rotation. The mechanical nature of the device also provides the surgeon force feedback in his or her movements. As the device lacks the sophisticated electronic components found in other surgical robots, DistalMotion’s tool is only about one-tenth the cost of other devices.
Article from Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne: Extending the Hands of the Endoscopic Surgeon…