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Medicine Robotics AI News Hardware Science Technology

Robot Stitches Tissue By Itself Without A Real Doctor Pulling The Strings (seattletimes.com) 53

An anonymous reader writes: Scientists have created a robotic system that is capable of stitching up tissue in living animals without a human doctor pulling the strings. Wednesday's research brings us one step closer toward autonomous surgical robots. While doctors did supervise the robot, the robot performed as well, and in some cases a bit better, as some competing surgeons in stitching together intestinal tissue of pigs used in the tests. Wednesday's project is "the first baby step toward true autonomy," said Dr. Umamaheswar Duvvuri of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. He cautioned others to not expect to see doctors leave entire operations in a robot's digital hands -- yet. The tissue-stitching robot is designed to do one specific tasks, similar to machines in other industries. For example, robot arms do the welding and painting in most U.S. car assembly lines. The Smart Tissue Autonomous Robot (STAR) system is equipped with suturing equipment plus smart imaging technologies to let it track moving tissue in 3D and with an equivalent of night vision. Sensors have been added to help guide each stitch and tell how tightly to pull. All the surgeons have to do is place fluorescent markers on the tissue that needs stitching, and the robot takes aim. Human studies should begin within the next few years. The STAR system is just one of many up and coming robots to put surgery into the hands of non-surgeons.
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Robot Stitches Tissue By Itself Without A Real Doctor Pulling The Strings

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  • just wonderful, first going to the battlefield so we can up our game attacking people who didn't attack us.

    • by Ichijo ( 607641 )

      I haven't read that book, but it will be impressive when these battlefield robots will be able to rush out to the site of an explosion, gather up all the people parts, sort them by DNA, sew them back together and restart the heart before the brain runs out of oxygen.

      They should also put a couple of these on each airline flight, and build them out of the same stuff as the black boxes.

  • if your hospital is infected by a virus. And medical computer security is almost non-existent.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Why would the stitching robot have access to the internet?

      • Well, there would be no direct access of course, but it certainly would be connected to the LAN. Then you can maybe upload data about how to conduct the operation from a nearby computer, or the robot wants to export a protocol file of how and where it did its stitches and add that to the patient's file. Especially interesting for insurances when there is the suspicion that something went wrong during the operation.

        You can think of many different things here, and when our current time we live in shows one th

      • Why would an IV machine?

        It offers lots of little conveniences, and wouldn't be too much of a problem if the software was written to be properly paranoid about security.

      • Why would the stitching robot have access to the internet?

        Because people are stupid.

    • You evidently don't know that medical errors are the THIRD leading cause of death [hospitalsafetyscore.org] in the US. How much of that do you think is attributable to computer security? Yeah, not much.

      I would gladly go under the knife of a tested, proven robotic surgeon for most routine procedures when the time is right. A robot can integrate my vitals, look at the surgical area from n different angles, see in infrared, reference a thousand prior cases and on and on. It's a cute but defenseless argument that some comp

  • by OzPeter ( 195038 ) on Wednesday May 04, 2016 @04:25PM (#52048795)

    I thought that sewing machines had been doing this ever since they were invented!

    • by vux984 ( 928602 )

      Go ahead then, show us a 100 year old sewing machine that can stitch together the intestines inside a living animal by itself.

      • by sims 2 ( 994794 )

        I think he was trying to be funny by pointing out that sewing machines have been stitching peoples hands ever since they were invented. Just not on purpose.

        • by vux984 ( 928602 )

          I see SOOO many posts of "why is this news, we've been doing $OTHERTHING$ forever." where $OTHERTHING$, if you rubbed two brain cells together, is completely different.

          But yeah, maybe a ~whoosh~ is in order here. I can see it now that you raised it as a possibility.

          -cheers

  • So this was perfectly possible before, as long as the was a doctor there putting tension on the strings? WTF does this mean? Could we avoid trying to spice things up with shitty puns in light of making thins clearer?
    • by mi ( 197448 )

      WTF does this mean?

      It means bad use of metaphor [mtholyoke.edu]. Not entirely unlike exclaiming "what the fuck", when no romance (much less sexual intercourse) is anywhere near the topic.

  • A friend of mine had a child with a Cesarean. She was sewed up by two people afterwards — an experienced doctor on one side and a young "resident" on the other.

    The resident's side remained painful for two weeks longer than the experienced doctor's side. If a robot can do these things in the near future, it would be welcome progress indeed. We are very short on doctors [washingtonpost.com].

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Wait and see how short on doctors we become once new ones are unable to train due to robot replacement.

    • by guises ( 2423402 )
      You sure they both used the same thread? That's typical when you compare silk sutures to nylon sutures - the silk gets absorbed, so they don't have to cut it off, but it causes inflammation as that happens, which is painful. Two weeks is expected.

      Not so much a factor of experience though, there are plenty of experienced doctors who will use silk just because it's less work.
  • Now surgeons won't necessarily need the steadiest of hands nor do they need to retire early in life. Good surgeons are more than steady hands.

    It should also allow all surgeons to do more delicate surgery.

    Makes a lot of sense. I'm surprised someone didn't think about this 10 years ago.

    Computers aren't getting that much faster even with multiple cores. So there is no reason to believe that a lot of tech 50 years from now couldn't be invented now.

    We have the tools and ability; we just have to imagine how to us

    • I'm surprised ...

      I did and assumed hat's what the DaVinci machine [wikipedia.org] did, but it is only telemanipulators. Baby steps.

      For a similar technological use, think of a remote rover driving around autonomously with a few geologists monitoring the 360 degree video feed. When one sees an interesting rock, they click on it and the rover drives back to autonomously investigate further. On something like a planetary probe such a machine could easily out perform an astronaut (with enough eyeballs, all problems are shallow) even with 30 m

  • by Joe_Dragon ( 2206452 ) on Wednesday May 04, 2016 @04:45PM (#52048947)

    Dateline 2030
    750K student loan from med school and no jobs. And all the mc jobs in 50 miles of me don't want some with a masters much less an MD.

    What to do?

    • Vote for Bernie. Probably he's dead by then but maybe you have luck.

    • by crtreece ( 59298 )
      Don't worry, there will be a few jobs available doing service or maintenance on the robots. If you get one of those, and are frugal, you might have your loans paid off before you die.
  • seriously, when there is an alien about to burst out of you, [youtube.com] do you really want to wait to get to a human surgeon?

  • We'll be there when the robot starts making racist remarks about not understanding why anyone would want to be made of meat. "Oh, I'm sorry, meatbag, did that hurt? I'd sympathize, but we robots are incapable of feeling pain! Plus I'm not programmed for sympathy!"
  • Is this supposed to be some kind of achievement? Suturing isn't hard - even medical students can do it :)

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