Surgeons and scientists from Sheikh Zayed Institute for Pediatric Surgical Innovation at Children’s National Health System are the first to demonstrate that supervised, autonomous robotic soft tissue surgery on a live subject (in vivo) in an open surgical setting is feasible and outperforms standard clinical techniques in a dynamic clinical environment.
The study, published today in Science Translational Medicine, reports the results of soft tissue surgeries conducted on both inanimate porcine tissue and living pigs using proprietary robotic surgical technology, Smart Tissue Autonomous Robot (STAR), developed at Children’s National. This technology removes the surgeon’s hands from the procedure, instead utilizing the surgeon as supervisor, with soft tissue suturing autonomously planned and performed by the STAR robotic system.
Soft tissues are the tissues that connect, support or surround other structures and organs of the body such as tendons, ligaments, fascia, skin, fibrous tissues, fat, synovial membranes, muscles, nerves and blood vessels. Currently more than 44.5 million soft tissue surgeries are performed in the U.S. each year.
“Our results demonstrate the potential for autonomous robots to improve the efficacy, consistency, functional outcome and accessibility of surgical techniques,” said Dr. Peter C. Kim, Vice President and Associate Surgeon-in-Chief, Sheikh Zayed Institute for Pediatric Surgical Innovation. “The intent of this demonstration is not to replace surgeons, but to expand human capacity and capability through enhanced vision, dexterity and complementary machine intelligence for improved surgical outcomes.”