Researchers from the University of Münster performed the first fully robotic microsurgical operations on humans. The doctors used a brand-new microsurgery-specific operations robot connected to a robotic microscope. The operating surgeon can be completely removed from the operating room using this method.
The experts have been using this method for some months. Five operations have been completed successfully thus far, with many more planned. According to Maximilian Kückelhaus, “This new method for operations enables us to work with a much higher degree of delicacy and precision than is possible with conventional operating techniques. As a result, less tissue is destroyed and patients recover faster.”
The tiniest anatomical structures, such as blood vessels, nerves, or lymphatic vessels, which frequently have a diameter of just 0.3 millimetres, are joined by microsurgeons using a robot. Robotic surgery uses extremely tiny instruments that are up to 20 times smaller than the operating surgeon’s to completely eradicate all hand tremors.
Surgeons can virtually observe the surgical site using a 3D augmented reality headset and two high-resolution monitors. Even difficult viewing angles are possible because the robot can record and transmit the surgeon’s head movements. The operating surgeon can use the robot to perform tasks and navigate through menus without having to use their hands.
Furthermore, the new technology allows surgeons to adopt a more relaxed posture, which streamlines and speeds up their work. Professor Tobias Hirsch of the University of Münster explains, “As we can now operate on patients in a remote fashion, we have much better ergonomics.”
They were able to demonstrate during training that the ergonomics and efficiency of the operations were superior to conventional techniques. The project is being worked on by Maximilian Kückelhaus and Tobias Hirsch at Bristol’s Wolf University Hospital.
“Our hope is that with this new method we can not only perform operations with a greater degree of precision and safety—but also, in the case of the tiniest structures, go beyond limits imposed by the human body. Not having to be at the operating table can also mean that one day the operating surgeon will no longer have to be physically present. An expert might be able to perform special operations at any one of several locations—without having to travel and be there in person,” added Maximilian Kückelhaus.