A flexible robotic endoscopic device has been designed by researchers, which can preform gastric surgeries without any incisions.
Louis Phee, an associate professor at the Nanyang Technological University who led the team of researchers, had spent six years to develop the gadget, which cut an eight-hour procedure to just 17 minutes, said doctors at India's Asian Institute of Gastroenterology.
This new procedure involves a flexible endoscope (small tube inserted in intestinal tracts), with small robotic arms being inserted through the patient's mouth to the stomach, while the surgeon monitors it on a computer screen.
Using joystick and buttons to control the robotic arms, the surgeon then removes the cancerous tumour and the patient goes home after the operation.
This system, named MASTER (Master And Slave Transluminal Endoscopic Robot) is entirely designed and built from scratch in NTU.
Without this robotic system, a patient is likely to undergo open surgery to remove the tumour. As ESD is considered a very difficult procedure, the robot is easily modified to perform many other procedures within the digestive tract. This novel procedure also opens up new possibilities for surgery: the robot is able to cut a small hole in the stomach wall to get access to other organs like the liver, kidney, and pancreas to perform intricate surgery.
After the surgery is done, it slides back into the stomach, mends the hole in the stomach wall and exits out of the mouth again.
The gadget, still in the trial stage, has been tested earlier this month on three patients at the Indian hospital.