The use of robots in medicine is becoming more frequent, either for analysis or for complex interventions. But in general these are large robots. But for a few years nanorobs have gained a very important space in this field. And now, in a major breakthrough, a team of experts has succeeded in designing a robot capable of entering our veins and completing surgery.
When a person has a blocked artery or blood vessel, a team of surgeons must carefully pass a ultrathin catheter through blood vessel of the person to reach the lesion or blocked area. But surgeons must estimate the position of the catheter from outside the patient’s body using X-rays.
“The procedure involves long hours of operation – says Gunhee Jang, leader of the team that developed the robot – because it is difficult to precisely target a lesion if the blood vessel has a complex shape or is totally blocked.”
To address these issues, Jang’s team devised a solution using an autonomous robot that is externally guided by magnets. The first step was to develop software that uses 2D X-ray images taken from different angles to create a 3D map of the patient’s blood vessels. The robot uses the 3D map to navigate autonomously and carry out the programmed treatments. To reach the defined area, a catheter is used to inject the robot into a blood vessel near the treatment area, and the external magnetic field creates a rotational motion to disengage the robot from the catheter. The external magnetic field is then used to guide the robot to the treatment site via the 3D map.
Once the robot reaches the part of the artery or blood vessel that needs treatment, it can perform a number of tasks, including ballooning, suctioning of blood clots, or localized delivery of contrast media or medication. Once the robot’s task is complete, external magnetic system guides the robot back to the catheter and the body is removed. The techniques have been tested eight different times in live pigs and also in simulations.