The Smart Tissue Autonomous Robot (STAR), designed by a team of researchers at Johns Hopkins University, has performed laparoscopic intestinal anastomoses in four experiments on pig tissue without human help.
The robot outperformed surgeons using manual-laparoscopic and robot-assisted surgical techniques in the consistency of suture spacing and bite depth and the number of suture hesitancy events that directly affect the quality of a leak-free end-to-end anastomosis.
STAR advances a 2016 model that repaired a pig’s intestines accurately, but required a large incision to access the intestine and more guidance from humans.
The researchers equipped STAR with new features for enhanced autonomy and improved surgical precision for laparoscopic procedures, including a structural light-based 3D endoscope and machine learning-based tracking algorithm.
The findings show that one of the most intricate and delicate tasks in surgery, the reconnection of two ends of an intestine, can be automated, the researches say.
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