Miniature in vivo Robots for Remote and Harsh Environments

University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, NE 68198, USA.
IEEE Transactions on Information Technology in Biomedicine (Impact Factor: 2.49). 02/2008; 12(1):66-75. DOI: 10.1109/TITB.2007.898017
Source: PubMed


Long-term human space exploration will require contingencies for emergency medical procedures including some capability to perform surgery. The ability to perform minimally invasive surgery (MIS) would be an important capability. The use of small incisions reduces surgical risk, but also eliminates the ability of the surgeon to view and touch the surgical environment directly. Robotic surgery, or telerobotic surgery, may provide emergency surgical care in remote or harsh environments such as space flight, or extremely forward environments such as battlefields. However, because current surgical robots are large and require extensive support personnel, their implementation has remained limited in forward environments, and they would be difficult, or impossible, to use in space flight or on battlefields. This paper presents experimental analysis of miniature fixed-base and mobile in vivo robots to support MIS surgery in remote and harsh environments. The objective is to develop wireless imaging and task-assisting robots that can be placed inside the abdominal cavity during surgery. Such robots will provide surgical task assistance and enable an on-site or remote surgeon to view the surgical environment from multiple angles. This approach is applicable to long-duration space flight, battlefield situations, and for traditional medical centers and other remote surgical locations.

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