A collection of Duke University bioengineers announced recently that they have developed a robot that can locate lesions in simulated human organs, accurately navigate a device to the spot of the lesion, and take samples of the tissue all without the help of a doctor.
By using 3D ultrasound pictures, the robot, nicknamed “Biopsy Bot,” can perform its tasks autonomously. The ultrasound pictures serve as the robot’s eyes and a sophisticated assembly of processors connected to motorized hands allow it to guide instruments into the body of its patient. In the tests that have been performed so far, the robot has been proven to be 93 percent effective.
The developers claim that the advantage to a system like this is that all of the necessary technology already exists and that the need to start from scratch has been entirely avoided. The systems can be easily modified, which makes the Duke scientists all the more confident that this is a viable surgical solution in the future.
So what do you think? Would you be comfortable having your appendix removed, a relatively simple surgical procedure, if it was being done by a robot without any human interaction?
Personally, that premise is a bit unsettling. While many surgeons are utilizing specially-designed robotic arms for procedures like heart surgery, they are in control of their movements at all times. An autonomous robot may not know if it has clipped a vein, or if the anesthesia has worn off and the person is coming back into consciousness.
While this program is in its very infant phases, there are a lot of questions that need to be answered before this could ever be accepted by the general public.
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