31. October 2011 15:06
An eye-surgery robot designed to help surgeons with precision and ease during operations has been developed at Eindhoven University.
The system filters out hand tremors, which tend to occur more often with increased age.
Researcher Thijs Meenink said: “When ophthalmologists start operating they are usually already at an advanced stage in their careers. But at a later age it becomes increasingly difficult to perform these intricate procedures.”
The medical device allows the ophthalmologist to be in complete control, operating from the ‘master’ using two joysticks. Two robotic arms (the ‘slave’ developed by Meenink) then copy the master’s movements.
The surgeon’s movements are scaled down, so that each centimetre of joystick motion translates to only one millimetre of movement by the instrument “increasing the precision of the movements”, as Meenink commented.
Ophthalmologist Professor Marc de Smet, one of Meenink's PhD supervisors, said: “Robotic eye surgery is the next step in the evolution of microsurgery in ophthalmology, and will lead to the development of new and more precise procedures.”
Meenink has also designed an ‘instrument changer’, so that the robot can use different instruments during surgery. This reduces procedure time, as some eye operations can require as many as 40 instrument changes.
The first human operation using the new technology is expected within the next five years.