Surgical endoscopy has been hailed as the route to an end to open surgical procedures, but many relatively simple operations still have to be done with a scalpel. Enter the Flex System from Medrobotics (Raynham, Massachusetts), the first surgical endoscopy device with snake-like abilities that allow it to reach places that straight instruments simply can’t.
The technology behind the Flex was originally developed at the Carnegie Mellon Robotics Lab and developed further by Farm, a medical device product development firm. It involves flexible concentric components that can be made to be stiff or go limp as necessary, together acting like a snake that can be positioned around obstacles. The tip of the snake can accept a variety of instruments through the multiple channels within the endoscope, and also hosts a forward looking high definition video camera.
The system has just received the CE Mark of approval and is being made available to European surgeons.
From the product page:
The system enables physicians to operate through non-linear circuitous paths, self-supported, and through a single-site access into the body.
The maneuverability of the endoscope is gained from its numerous mechanical linkages with concentric mechanisms. Each mechanism can be placed into a rigid or a limp state. By employing a patented “follow-the-leader” movement strategy with these alternating states, the endoscope can be directed into any shape through the relative orientations of its linkages.
Product page: Flex System…