First successful robotic surgery at the University Hospital Vienna

10/11/2021 | myRobotcenter
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Robots assisting in operations and translating surgeons' movements is nothing new. But with this new surgery robot, the ENT of MedUni Vienna and the AKH Vienna have reached a new milestone. 

When is it reasonable to use a surgery robot?

These days, medical teams are already using modern imaging techniques and robotic surgical assistants - which perform their movements with precision and thus enable interventions in the tightest of spaces. But even here there are limits because the highly technical surgical devices used today are subject to minimal fluctuation. 

 

For example, this low value still made it impossible to directly access the cochlea during cochlear implant surgery. Since the cochlea has a diameter of only 1 mm and the facial and gustatory nerves are located right next to it, it was previously necessary to use the invasive route via the skullcap.


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Fully automated surgery robot as a milestone in keyhole surgery

Wolfgang Gstöttner from the Medical University for Ear, Nose, and Throat Diseases in Vienna speaks of a milestone, because the new high-tech robot now no longer executes the surgeon's movements, but works according to a high-precision navigation system. For so-called keyhole surgery, such as the insertion of a cochlea implant, this means an extraordinary improvement, because a minimally invasive operation becomes possible for the patient. 

 

Gstöttner compares the new technology to an autopilot in an airplane. The surgery robot works by means of a precise navigation system, into which all information about the cochlea and the position of the facial and gustatory nerves is fed beforehand. Thanks to the new technology, the surgeons present no longer control the robot manually, but it acts fully automatically and places precise access to the inner ear in a minimally invasive way.


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HEARO a Swiss-Austrian Cooperation

The high-tech robotic surgery system called "HEARO" was developed by the Swiss medical technology company CASCINATION. The Bern-based company is dedicated to the development, manufacture and marketing of innovations in computer-assisted and image-guided surgery. "HEARO" is operated in cooperation with the Innsbruck-based medical technology company MED-EL, which is specialized in the insertion of hearing implants. The operation robot is planned to be deployed to the ENT Department of the University Hospital, Vienna by the end of the year.


Will surgeons now be replaced by high-tech surgery robots?

No, because surgery robots can't work without human intervention. The high-tech robotic surgery system depends on human knowledge and controls by experienced specialists. 

 

At the heart of the new technology is a transportable intraoperative CT unit. Before the operation robot starts its work, the device performs a computed tomography (CT) scan. Using a specially developed software, specialists record all the important information about the cochlea and the surrounding nerves. Based on this data, the high-tech device creates a 3D model and calculates whether and how the surgery robot can place suitable access into the cochlea. If the calculation is positive and access can take place without injuring nerves and arteries, the robot starts the surgery.


The four to five screws that the robot needs as fixation points still have to be placed by the surgeons themselves. The first step of the operation - the incision behind the ear - and the insertion of the implant into the cochlea are also done manually. Bottom line, you can't do it without humans, but for sure, surgery robots like "HEARO" will be part of the future of healthcare.


10/11/2021 | myRobotcenter
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