A robotic catheter moves along a pig’s heart to help surgeons.
It is one of the first times researchers have shown that a truly autonomous surgical robot can navigate inside the heart, not controlled by a doctor with a joystick, according to a study in Wednesday’s journal Science Robotics.
Heart surgeons routinely push a thin tube called a catheter through twisting and turning blood vessels to make repairs in the heart without open surgery.
Just as cockroaches navigate along walls and rats reach out with their whiskers, the catheter maps its path through the heart, tapping periodically against the heart’s valve and wall ever so lightly — with about the force of a stick of butter sitting in your hand, Dupont said. The technology combines the camera’s images with machine learning to interpret what tissue it’s touching and how hard.
This is the only photo of robotic probe. Uses a touch optical sensor and a camera.
Dupont’s team tested the robotic catheter in 83 procedures in live pigs in a lab. The device found its target, on average taking seconds longer than a doctor threading a catheter into place. But Dupont said the robotic catheter will learn, just like humans, and get better and faster with more practice.
Image shown by the probe in a computer. Taken from this source.