Machine Design
An Unlikely Patient Undergoes da Vinci Surgery

An Unlikely Patient Undergoes da Vinci Surgery

Last week, a grape underwent a surgical procedure to demonstrate the precision of da Vinci robots in small-scale operations. It is doing alright, but it’s still wining about it.

While small and highly dexterous robotic tools physically stitch the grape’s skin back together, the surgeon has complete virtual control over the suture operation.

Watch the grape's surgery, courtesy of Engineering TV, below:

Although the video only shows the suturing abilities of da Vinci Single-Site Wristed Needle Drivers, other end pieces are available for a range of minimally invasive surgeries (MIS). All da Vinci systems translate the surgeon’s hand motions into smaller, precise robotic motions.

Such da Vinci surgeries have been replacing other MIS techniques like laparoscopy for the past 15 years. While laparoscopies require rigid, long tools that protrude through the body to the operation site, da Vinci surgeries can be done locally and with improved dexterity.

How it Works

The surgeon views the operation through a high-resolution, 3D-imaging camera, which can magnify the procedure up to 10 times. This way, the tools can easily be manipulated through incisions as small as 1-2 cm. The surgeon handles the suturing pincers in real time, with controls held between the index finger and thumb.

The tools have degrees of freedom that are easily controlled by the human hand, for rotation, pinching, bending, and other fluid motions. The system also filters out hand tremors during operation.  To further improve the human-to-robot communication during surgery, force and impact sensors relay tactile feedback to the surgeon’s controls.

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