Cambridge Medical Robotics is developing a next-generation robotic system for universal minimal access surgery.
It has developed a robot ‘Versius’ to perform upper GI, gynaecological, colorectal and renal surgery in cadaveric trials. The system has already demonstrated the ability to visualise and access all these surgical workspaces and to perform tissue manipulation, suturing, needle driving and electro-surgery. CMR has now built 20 proprietary robotic arms, built and tested nine different variants of its fully articulated 5mm instruments, and conducted 11 usability studies; to date the Versius system has been used by 32 surgeons.
Minimal access, or keyhole, surgery delivers acknowledged clinical benefits, including less trauma, reduced scarring, faster recovery times and lower costs for healthcare providers. The techniques, however, are hard to master, the training time is long and the procedure is physically demanding to perform. Robot-assisted surgery can offer all the benefits of manual minimal access surgery while crucially making life easier for surgeons, extending their careers, and at an affordable cost.
The CMR Versius comprises a surgeon console, modular light-weight robotic arms and a range of wristed 5 mm instruments. The system uses state-of-the-art 3D high-definition imagery, significantly enhanced flexibility, and will incorporate force feedback to provide surgeons with life-like sensitivity.
The system overcomes obstacles to widespread adoption of robotic minimal access surgery, namely robot size, instrument size, versatility, port placement, cost and ease of use, allowing the system to be highly utilised and ultimately cost-comparable to manual laparoscopic surgery.
Luke Hares, Technology Director, commented: “I am pleased to say the system performance in the October and November cadaveric trials was exactly as expected. This has validated the universal surgical robot concept that CMR has been developing – using numerous robotic arms in a flexible, modular, system to provide the versatility and dexterity necessary to support the majority of laparoscopic procedures.”
Mark Slack, Medical Director, commented: “Our medical advisory board members have now completed a series of simulation and cadaveric trials with the Versius system. In the first round of trials we were able to confirm the ability of the system to perform surgery in the upper abdomen, and for colorectal and pelvic surgery. In the next phase, we have progressed to the study of individual operations to further assess the capability of the system and the performance of the graspers, scissors, electrocautery and needle drivers.