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Telerobotics may enable remote-controlled stroke surgery

Science Robotics
Reuters Health - 14/04/2022 - Neurovascularsurgeons may one day use remote-controlled robots to do emergency procedures on stroke patients many miles away, researchers predict. 

Developers of a new telerobotic stroke management system hope it will eventually enable doctors at stroke centers to guide a soft, thin wire through the brain's narrow blood vessels in a patient at another hospital, using a joystick to control the robot's arm. 

The wire has a magnet on its tip. Another magnet at the end of the robot's arm steers the wire. Operators observe the progress of the wire via live imaging. 

In ischemic strokes, the robotic device would allow doctors to either extract the clot or deliver drugs to break it up. In hemorrhagic strokes, the device would allow doctors to "clip" the torn vessel and stop the bleeding, according to a report published on Wednesday in Science Robotics. 

The new device has so far been tested in life-sized silicone models of the brain's blood vessels, but not in the brains of humans or animals. 

Stroke patients often need to be transferred to specially equipped hospitals where doctors have the equipment and the experience to stop the stroke during the narrow window of time before brain damage becomes irreversible. 

"We imagine, instead of transporting a patient from a rural area to a large city, they could go to a local hospital where nurses could set up this system. A neurosurgeon at a major medical center could watch live imaging of the patient and use the robot to operate in that golden hour. That's our future dream," project leader Xuanhe Zhao of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology said in a statement. 

The researchers also see a benefit from using the telerobotic system when surgeons and patients are in the same hospital. 

"The neurosurgeons can operate the robot in another room or even in another city without repeated exposure to X-rays," Zhao said. 

Zhao told Reuters Health, "We are in the process of forming a startup company to translate this technology for clinical trials and approvals with support from the MIT Deshpande Center. We estimate that it will take 2 to 3 years before the device will be tested in humans and 3 to 5 years before it will be commercially available to hospitals." 

The research is a joint effort of MIT, The Massachusetts General Hospital, and Philips Research North America. 

SOURCE: https://bit.ly/3uICsp9  Science Robotics, online April 12, 2022. 

By Nancy Lapid and Shawana Alleyne-Morris 

© 2023 The Author(s). Published by Medicom Medical Publishers.
User license: Creative Commons Attribution – NonCommercial (CC BY-NC 4.0)

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