Background The aim of this study was to develop a multidexterous robot capable of generating the required forces and speeds to perform surgical tasks intra-abdominally. Current laparoscopic surgical robots are expensive, bulky, and fundamentally constrained by a small entry incision. A new approach to minimally invasive surgery places the robot completely within the patient. Miniature in vivo robots may allow surgeons to overcome current laparoscopic constraints such as dexterity, orientation, and visualization. Methods A collaborative research group from the Department of Surgery at the University of Nebraska Medical Center and the College of Engineering at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln designed and built a surgical robot prototype capable of performing specific surgical tasks within the peritoneal cavity. Results The basic robotic design consists of two arms each connected to a central body. Each arm has three degrees of freedom and rotational shoulder and elbow joints. This combination allows a surgeon to grasp, manipulate, cauterize, and perform intracorporeal suturing. The robot's workspace is a hollow hemisphere with an inner radius of 75 mm and an outer radius of 205 mm. Its versatility was demonstrated in four procedures performed in a porcine model: cholecystectomy, partial colectomy, abdominal exploration, and intracorporeal suturing. Conclusions Miniature in vivo robots have the potential to address the limitations of using articulated instrumentation to perform advanced laparoscopic surgical procedures. Once inserted into the peritoneal cavity, the robot provides a stable platform for visualization with sufficient dexterity and speed to perform surgical tasks from multiple orientations and workspaces.
- Laparoendoscopic single-site surgery
- Miniature robot
- Minimally invasive surgery
- Robotic surgery
ASJC Scopus subject areas