Suramya's Blog : Welcome to my crazy life…

March 12, 2023

Researchers create mini-robot that can navigate inside blood vessels and perform surgery autonomously

Filed under: Emerging Tech,Tech Related — Suramya @ 11:13 PM

Performing surgery is a delicate task and at times it is almost impossible to reach the area we want to operate at without having to cut through other important tissues. This is even more apparent when we talk about surgery inside a blood vessel or artery, which could be the key to removing an obstruction or stitch a wound etc. Till now we didn’t have the ability to release an autonomous robot inside a blood vessel that could navigate to the correct location, perform the programmed actions (or allow the doctor to manually take over) and return.

This was only possible in the realm of Science Fiction but thanks to the efforts of Researchers at South Korea’s Hanyang University this is now actually possible in the real world. They have successfully demonstrated that their I-RAMAN (robotically assisted magnetic navigation system for endovascular intervention) robot can travel autonomously to a superficial femoral artery in a pig, deliver contrast dye, and return safely to the extraction point. Their results and paper was published on 9th Feb in IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters: Separable and Recombinable Magnetic Robot for Robotic Endovascular Intervention.

This study presents a separable and recombinable magnetic robot (SRMR) to deliver and retrieve an untethered magnetic robot (UMR) to a target vascular lesion safely and effectively for robotic endovascular intervention. The SRMR comprises a delivery catheter and UMR connected to the end of the delivery catheter by a connecting section. An external magnetic field (EMF) interacts with the permanent magnet of the UMR; it can effectively generate magnetic torque and steer the delivery catheter to reach a target lesion. Furthermore, the rotating EMF allows the UMR of the SRMR to separate from the delivery catheter and perform the tunneling task. After completing the tunneling task, the UMR can be safely recombined with the delivery catheter in the vasculature via a simultaneous application of the EMF and suction force to the delivery catheter. The SRMR functions of steering, separation, movement, tunneling, drug delivery, and recombination are validated in a mimetic vascular model with a pseudo blood clot. Finally, the SRMR is successfully validated in an in vivo experiment of a mini pig’s superficial femoral artery for contrast delivery, separation, movement, and recombination.

This is a fantastic achievement, and although there is a lot of work still left to be done before this can be deployed for actual human use we are still a step closer to truly universal repair bots. Imagine an accident victim who is bleeding internally, the doctor deploys these robots to restitch the blood vessels to stop the internal bleeding and within minutes the bleeding is stopped and the doctor can start the post-op work. I can imagine these being sold as part of the standard medkits in the future (way in the future) where you have a few pre-programmed options available and depending on the situation a person can select the correct option to deploy.

However, all is not rosy (as always). If these go into active use and become common enough to be deployed in med-kits then we would need systems to prevent these bots from being repurposed. For example, instead of being programmed to stitch blood vessels the bots are programmed to cause more damage and start internal bleeding. There are so many other scenarios where this could be misused so we would need to think of all the cases, mitigate the risk and only then deploy them into the world.

That being said, I am still excited to see the possibilities this opens up.

Source: ACM Tech News Newsletter.

– Suramya

No Comments »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Leave a comment

Powered by WordPress