The idea of the wearable robotics is to make non-invasive surgery simpler
and easier to perform, by providing surgeons with natural and dexterous movements. The robotics add a further advantages by helping surgeons to ‘sense’, ‘see’, control more easily as they navigate through the surgical procedure. Robotically-assisted surgery is being developed to overcome the limitations of pre-existing minimally-invasive surgical procedures and to enhance the capabilities of surgeons performing open surgery.
For many complications requiring surgical intervention non-invasive surgery is preferred since this leads in reduced blood loss, results in fewer bacterial infections and promotes faster patient recovery. This includes the urology, cardiovascular and orthopedic fields of surgery.
The development of wearable robotics for surgery has been undertaken via European Union funding, to the tune of 4 million euros ($4.5 million), with work carried out in the U.K. at the North Bristol NHS Trust
together with other research institutes.
Heading up the development has been Professor Dogramadzi and the future aim is to further expand the use of robotic technology to more complex surgical procedures. The complexity is with fashioning robotic applications that can mimic complex human dexterity and senses.
The robotic implements take the form of devices
that can be worn by the surgeon and which are capable of transmitting the surgeon's own movements to the robotic device without restrictions. Examples include exoskeletons designed to fit over the surgeon's hands, capable of controlling instruments inside the body. Such instruments will allow the surgeon to 'feel' the tissues and organs inside the body (what is termed ‘haptic feedback’). By giving the surgeon a sense of touch something with the same sensitive that the surgeon currently has (by touch) is coupled with a device that is potentially more dexterous than the human hand.
A further development is with ‘smart glasses’ that improve the view to the surgeon of what is happening inside the body.
In a research communication, Professor Dogramadzi explains the advantages
"we want to give existing processes a more natural interface -- operating surgeons will not have to do any unusual or unnatural movement. They will be able to use their hands as they would in open incision surgery. This also means that training to use the robotic technology for surgery will be quicker.”
Based on the prototypes to date it looks like surgery is set to see a major advance, through the development of the human-robotics interface.