Imagine a surgeon who can perform surgery with extreme precision, smaller incisions, decreased blood loss, less pain, and quicker healing time. That is one of the primary roles of robotics in modern medicine. Although technically considered to be teleoperated devices robotic surgical system such as the da Vinci and Zeus surgical systems are proving to be an invaluable tool for surgeons. Robotic surgical systems utilize the same technology that an autonomous robot would employ for motion control, imaging and tactile feedback while remaining under the control of a human surgeon.
Robotic surgery or robotic-assisted surgery allows the surgeon to perform surgery using a computer to control tiny surgical instruments remotely. When compared to traditional open and laparoscopic surgery, robotic instruments can perform task in hard to reach locations inside the human body through smaller incisions with minimal trauma.
Robotics can increase precision by helping eliminate hand trimmers and other involuntary movements that could influence the precision of the surgeon. Cardiac surgeons, for example, have found that they can meet or exceed the level of precision achieved through conventional methods of open-heart surgery without having to split the breastbone.
Although not the classic robot as we might picture it robotic instruments play a major role in diagnosis. The CAT scan is one diagnostic robot that most of us are familiar with. Robotic laboratory equipment reduces the risk of human error by analyzing blood and tissue samples for diagnostic purposes. Their automated techniques provide consistency and accuracy helping to eliminate miss-diagnosis.
There is ongoing research into robotic replacement hearts, limbs, eyes, ears and other organs. The greatest challenge facing researchers in robotic organs is the body’s natural immune response to foreign objects. They must also develop ways to prevent dangerous chemical interactions between the robotic organ and organic tissue.
For those who have suffered a stroke, brain or nerve damage robotic exercise platforms can be used to improve limb function while monitoring their condition during rehabilitation.
Reboots are used in the production of medications; here they provide invaluable assistance by protecting the human workers from dangerous chemicals and accidental drug exposure. The use of robotics also helps protect the medication from human transmitted contaminates while providing consistency in the manufacturing process.
Although not necessarily considered medical robots, search and rescue robots are beginning to play an important role in protecting first responders. Rescue and flight robots can provide reconnaissance in areas that may be too dangerous for human rescue workers. Just a couple of the practical uses for flight and rescue robots are high rise structural fires and accidents involving hazardous materials. There is also ongoing research and development of rescue robots that are capable of physically removing an injured person from a hazardous situation and transporting them to the first responders.