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STAR: The Robotic System That Just Performed the First Laparoscopic Surgery on its Own

The future of surgery is robotic
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Countries around the world are turning to robotic systems controlled by surgeons to perform laparoscopic (small incision) surgeries. However, scientists from Johns Hopkins University have now furthered developments to the Smart Tissue Autonomous Robot (STAR), a robotic surgeon capable of operating on patients completely independently.

Six years ago, the surgical capabilities of the robot were tested on pigs when performing intestinal anastamosis – stitching the two ends of the incised small intestine. It’s worth clarifying that a large external incision, albeit minor, needed direct involvement of an experienced surgeon to access the intestine back then.

The updated STAR version, with a greater degree of autonomy, performed this operation by laparoscopy independently. According to the observers’ conclusions, the quality of the operations performed by the robot was superior to that of most of its living colleagues.

The robot surgeon is equipped with special tools for suturing, which is considered the most difficult stage of intestinal anastomosis. Advanced imaging and autonomous control systems are also used for this purpose.

Picture credit: Johns Hopkins University

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