I've often said that the biological revolution will be to the 21st century what the electronic one was to the 20th (industrial to the 19th, French to the 18th :) Surgical robots obviously combine electronics and medicine; I wonder if there will be an emergence of a speciality of electronic-design-savvy surgeons.
Heartlander is one of the harbingers of the many wonders of the robotic surgery world. It is also a derivative of the MEMS culture. MEMS, surgical robots, image guided surgery and like the minimally invasive robotic sugery system Da Vinci of intuitive surgical.
I think anything that reduces the invasive nature of a medical procedure is a great improvement, so this is lightyears above splitting the breastbone and cracking the rib cage open. As far as the inch worm motion, does that not allow sharp turns as well? I think an inch worm can support itself on the rear half while raising and turning the front. Is this device capable of that manuever?
Believe it or not... I've actually seen this up close and functioning. (The investigators are colleagues at Carnegie Mellon where I teach.)
Answering your question about the inchworm movement: it is only temporary, until the "lander" is in place. Therafter, procedures are peformed on the heart surface from the moving point of reference. The ingenuity of the inchworm motion is to provide a highly compact locomotion mechanism, hence limit the size of the surgical entry/exit site.
These investigators have worked tirelessly on this project for many many years. I'm so glad to see their hard work come to fruition.
I agree, Beth. Open heart surgery is very commonplace in the U.S. today. If we could eliminate even a fraction of those open heart operations, and spare the patients the trauma and discomfort of cracking open the chest, this technology would be a godsend.
Given the prevalence of heart disease in this country, a tool like this could have a major impact on improving patient treatment, not to mention reducing the high costs of the countless in-hospital cardiac procedures.
I'm curious as to the significance of the inchworm-like movement. Any thoughts out there on how this might impact flexibility and performance?
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