Surgeons in the Netherlands have successfully used a precision-enhancing robot to conduct a microsurgery for treating lymphedema. The microsurgery on tiny lymph and blood vessels was performed with the help of a pair of "robot hands". It served as a motion-controlled assistant and provided more control to the surgeons, turning the motions of their hands into smaller, more precise and tremor-free movements.
Lymphedema is a serious condition, often occurring due to breast cancer treatment which disrupts the flow of lymphatic fluid leading to its build-up causing pain and swelling.
The treatment for the chronic condition is a complex microsurgery which involves connecting lymphatic vessels to blood vessels to restore the flow to normal. As the procedure requires a high-level of precision, not many surgeons are able to do it.
However, in this case, surgeons from Maastricht University Medical Center+ (UMC+) were able to alleviate the condition using "robot hands" developed by a company called Microsure. The robot sutured vessels of 0.3 to 0.8mm in the arm of the patient, who is doing fully well.
Microsure's "robot allows us to operate on minuscule lymph vessels and blood vessels with more ease, while getting better results for these complex and fatiguing interventions", said Shan Shan Qiu Shoa, a plastic surgeon at Maastricht UMC+. "Besides it is very convenient that, within microsurgery, we can operate on vessels of every size with this robot. Most importantly, of course, this is good news for the patients concerned."
Raimondo Cau, the CTO of Microsure, says the next step for their team will be to use the bot for other advanced microsurgeries, which are impossible to perform by hand. According to Cau, the robot would help surgeons perform micro procedures with higher precision and fewer complications.
The successful surgery comes as robots continue to grow in healthcare as well as other fields. Honda has unveiled a robot for disaster relief efforts, while just a couple of weeks back, a Chinese robot performed a fully-automated dental implant without any assistance from doctors who witnessed the procedure.