July 2012

A Mechanical Arm

Don Alvarez, Director, Global Product Marketing, Perfint Healthcare

There are various robotic solutions being used for medical procedures ranging from mechanical devices outside the body that support surgery to so called nanorobots that can travel through the blood stream to find and treat diseases. There is also an enterprise level robotic systems that can more accurately and efficiently organise, distribute and record the delivery and use of drugs and medical disposables throughout an institution.

There is a new type of robotic device now coming into regular use among interventional oncologists and other specialists who perform image guided, minimally invasive surgical procedures that involve the ablation of cancerous lesions and tumours. These robots help the doctor to better visualise, plan and then perform the procedures, which often entail the insertion of needles or probes deep inside the body. These robots are also proving useful in helping inexperienced doctors train up to specialist level in minimum time.

A growing number of Indian doctors are using various robotic solutions to improve medical outcomes in their patients. A good number are using robots to help them perform biopsies, ablations and precise delivery of pain medicine to the spine. The next big step in the field of robotic solutions for interventional percutaneous and ablation procedures is in the area of ultrasound guidance. The future robotic solution could be a mechanical arm that is registered with the ultrasound transducer to render real-time, three dimensional views for better planning and more exact needle guidance. Ultrasound based procedures require special visualisation skills on the part of doctors who often must train for years before they qualify for becoming expert. Robots have proven useful in dramatically reducing the time that it takes a doctor to expertly perform certain image guided procedures.

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