Would you let your doctor turn a bacteria sized robot loose inside your body? The time is coming for you to decide. Medical innovation using robot machines is not science fiction anymore.
What is medical robotics today? It is an increasingly used key to health. Stop me if you heard about this already. Just in case you were a bit busy and missed it last week, they invented a smaller micro robot than the Da Vinci micro robot and they are using it for abdominal surgery.It also could be a new product waiting for marketing, management and investment. What is that? You say that you were not aware of the micro robot known as Da Vinci that does a wide variety of surgical procedures without the level of invasiveness routinely involved in surgeries done by the human hand. Well I don’t know how you missed that one. The Da Vinci robot surgeon has been around for a while now. Here is a picture of it. It has been widely used for prostratectomies, cardiac valve repair and gynecological procedures.
Sure it looks friendly enough as medical equipment goes these days but don’t let its cuddly features fool you. It is all business. . It is controlled by a doctor from a console and it gives the physician pin point accuracy in executing the micro fine movements so important when one is doing things inside of a micro environment like the human body. But the Da Vinci is not the first robot ever used in the surgical theater. The first surgical robot was called Puma and it came on the scene in 1985. Here is a picture of Puma.
Looks a bit scarier than the Da Vinci right, but it was a nicer surgery than the human kind because it allows a doctor to get inside the body without having to make more than a couple of incisions. Less incisions, means far less healing and pain suffered..
Now back to the health benefits of the Sprint micro robot for abdominal surgery. It smaller than Da Vinci and it makes this kind of surgery less complicated, invasive and costly. Also because there is only one incision, it can go in at the naval which is itself a natural scar so the incision scar blends in. It has tiny arms and elbows and even tiny little mechanical shoulders.This wonder is the invention and development project of Prof Menciassi and a team of researchers from across Europe called the Araknes team. Their work was supported by EUR 8.1 million in funding from the European Commission.
A robot called RIVA, developed by Intelligent Hospital Systems, has likewise automated the preparation of IV solutions in hospital pharmacies, making the process safer, cheaper and more efficient. To read more about Robotic Syringe robot click the link
One more thing about robots in general.They are being used more and more from everything to diagnosing symptoms or keeping supplies in the hospital. They deliver medicine to nurses stations, deliver medicine to the filling of prescriptions and now they will deliver medicine right to the cell inside your body.This will mean les medicine is used and less toxicity to other collateral areas of the body.
The following is based on a paper from; The 2009 IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems October 11-15, 2009 St. Louis, USA. The people pioneering this work who are the authors of this paper are; Li Zhang, Jake J. Abbott, Lixin Dong, Bradley E. Kratochvil, Haixin Zhang, Kathrin E. Peyer, and Bradley J. Nelson
This is one of the first places it was published and it is the basis of ongoing research which was updated in 2011.
Different materials are candidates for helical including semiconductors, metals, and polymers
The idea is a robot so small that it is larger but still in the ballpark of the bacterial level. They call them Anti Bacterial Flagella or ABF for short. They do not actually go after bacteria yet but they are designed to deliver medicine to the correct cell by making an incision and then injecting the medicine. The flagella name came about because of a discovery In 1973. It was observed that bacteria swim in liquid by rotating their flagella filaments in a bundle.The helical shape allows for optimum passage through our liquid bodies. It took a while to get this because propulsion at the micro level is somewhat different from propulsion at the macro level and requires different types of mechanisms for application. The art of invention was influenced by observing nature once again.
How is the ABF guided to its destination? It is guided electromagnetically to its target. the soft metal head is composed of a Cr/Ni/Au trilayer with a thickness of 10/180/10 nm,respectively.
Because of the metal head it can be guided to the spot electromagnetically. The ABS will be used to manipulate mater at the cellular and sub cellular level.
We are awaiting the test of putting one of these in a human for medical treatment.We will keep you posted as science marches on.