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Updated: December 12, 2009 14:50 IST

Robotic hand facilitates rhythmic surgery on beating heart

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BETTER THAN HUMAN HANDS?: A micro-surgery in progress. Robotic technology predicts the movement of each heartbeat, enabling surgical tools to move rhythmically with each beat. File photo
AP
BETTER THAN HUMAN HANDS?: A micro-surgery in progress. Robotic technology predicts the movement of each heartbeat, enabling surgical tools to move rhythmically with each beat. File photo

A computerised 3D model will facilitate heart surgery in synchrony with its beats, thanks to a novel robotic hand.

The robotic technology predicts the movement of each heartbeat, enabling surgical tools to move rhythmically with each beat.

The 3D model has been developed by Rogério Richa, Philippe Poignet and Chao Liu from Montpellier Laboratory of Informatics, Robotics and Microelectronics in France.

It does away with the necessity of stopping the heart, which could cause potential risks. It has a significant bearing on millions of heart patients who require less invasive procedures, where stopping the heart is not necessary.

This is the first successful attempt to isolate the physical movements of the heart and lungs during surgery. This has been particularly difficult, given the heart's irregular shape as well as its tendency to expand outward in all directions during beating.

Researchers have made many attempts to use computer modelling to account for heart and breathing motion.

However, previous efforts have relied on 2D imaging combined with other steps, making them too slow to provide instantaneous feedback during an operation.

This new 3D imaging predicts the heart movements in a single step, making it faster in real-life surgical environments.

This model also accounts for the movement of a patient's chest wall during breathing. It permits the robotic arm to continually adjust to heart and chest movements during surgery.

The new approach relies on a mathematical representation of the heart's surface as it moves in three dimensions during pumping, says a Montpellier Lab release.

Over the last 10 years, robotic arms have become essential in many kinds of surgical procedures, including microsurgery and operations that require extremely delicate movements.

These findings were published in The International Journal of Robotics Research.


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