In the not-so-distant future, AI-controlled robots will almost certainly enslave humanity and make us all wish we could go back to the stone age, but for now, they’re actually pretty helpful machines. In fact, they’re even saving human lives in entirely new ways, and surgeons from the Maastricht University Medical Center in The Netherlands completed the first robot-assisted supermicrosurgery.
The robot was used to suture vessels measuring as small as 0.3 millimeters across in order to treat lymphedema in a patient. It’s such an incredibly delicate procedure that very few surgeons on the planet will even attempt, and this is the first time robotic assistance was used for such an operation. But despite it being a medical first, it seems everything went off without a hitch.
The robot that was used was built by Microsure, which counts some of the university medical center’s own staff among its founders. It is controlled by a surgeon who, by moving their own hands, prompts tiny, precise movements of the robot’s own small claws. As it translates the surgeon’s movements into commands for the robot, the system can mitigate any shakiness or unsteady motion, leading to a cleaner and more perfect operation.
“We are very pleased and proud that the first intervention using our robot has been a success, and that the surgeons are enthusiastic,” Microsure’s Raimondo Cau says. “This proves that our technology is a key breakthrough in improving surgical care. As a next step, we aim to assist surgeons during other types of complex microsurgical procedures like tissue reconstructions after removal of a tumor. Using our device they will be able to perform surgery with better precision and fewer complications.”