Study: Robotic arms reach to advance heart surgery

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Researchers from the Montpellier Laboratory of Informatics, Robotics and Microelectronics in Montpellier Cedex, France, have developed the thin-plate spline deformable 3D computerized model that enables a robotic arm to operate on a beating heart during surgery, a study published Dec.15 in the International Journal of Robotics Research found.

Lead author Rogério Richa, MD, and colleagues said the technology can continually adjust to a patient’s heart and chest movements during surgery and predict the movement of the organ as it beats.

According to the researchers, this is the first successful attempt at isolating the physical movements of the heart during surgery, permitting surgeons to perform the procedure as if the heart were stationary.

The computer-generated approach uses mathematical representations of the heart as it beats in 3D during pumping to create a single step approach to predicting heart movements faster than the previous, often lengthy 2D imaging model.

Traditionally, robotic technology has been useful in performing various surgical procedures such as microsurgery; however, researchers said the robotic arm often prevented surgeons from using their sense of touch and coordination in the changing environments.

The new computer-generated model will alleviate this and will be used for various procedures such as heart surgery, coronary bypasses and even brain surgery, according to researchers.

The robotic computer-generated technology will allow for procedures to be less invasive, further decreasing the risk of complications while increasing precision, said the authors.