Until now, surgical assistants have been responsible for these tasks. In the future, a metal hand that can be controlled by gestures and speech could take some of the weight off of the doctors’ shoulders.
This is expected to be made possible by a device which has been developed by researchers from the project group for automation in medicine and biotechnology at the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation IPA in Mannheim, Germany, together with their colleagues from the surgical clinic of the University Hospital of Mannheim. The device is reminiscent of a robot arm. The researchers have designed it so that it can hold standard instruments like those which are already in use in the operating room. One example are endoscopes, which take pictures inside the patient’s body and transmit outwardly: Once the doctor introduces such an endoscope through a tiny incision in the patient’s body, the system takes over: It holds the tool and can adjust the position of the endoscope under the direction of the doctor. The device ensures that damaging the incision point, i.e. the point at which the endoscope enters the body, is mechanically impossible.