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Medicine Robotics Hardware

Robot Snakes To Fight Cancer Via Natural Orifice Surgery 73

Hugh Pickens writes writes "BBC reports that on a robot snake that, guided by a skilled surgeon and designed to get to places doctors are unable to reach without opening a patient up, could help spot and remove tumors more effectively. Robot snakes could be as minimally invasive using body orifices or local incisions as points of entry. 'Surgery is a cornerstone treatment for cancer so new technologies making it even more precise and effective are crucial,' says Safia Danovi from Cancer Research UK. 'Thanks to research, innovations such as keyhole surgery and robotics are transforming the treatment landscape for cancer patients and this trend needs to continue.' Robot snakes could complement a robotic surgical system that has been used for the past decade — the Da Vinci surgical system — that is controlled by a surgeon sitting in a nearby chair and looking at a screen displaying the area of the body where the surgery is taking place. The surgeon manipulates the robot by pressing pedals and moving levers. Natural orifice surgery (warning: pictures of the inside of a person) has the potential to revolutionize surgery in the same way that laparoscopic surgery replaced open surgery. The objective is to enter the abdomen through an internal organ rather than through the skin — e.g. access via the mouth, esophagus and stomach, and then through the stomach wall. 'We are at the earliest stage of establishing the problems and proposing solutions,' says Rob Buckingham of OC Robotics, developer of the robot snake (video). 'Our prototype signals a direction of travel and is a milestone towards exploring a new surgical paradigm.'"
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Robot Snakes To Fight Cancer Via Natural Orifice Surgery

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  • by Scarletdown ( 886459 ) on Tuesday September 25, 2012 @03:07AM (#41447055) Journal

    So having a living snake put up your ass is no longer merely a penalty for striking a Roman citizen now? Very creative.

  • by Tuqui ( 96668 ) on Tuesday September 25, 2012 @03:09AM (#41447061) Homepage

    I just read that the TSA is training their agents in this techniques.

  • by SpaghettiPattern ( 609814 ) on Tuesday September 25, 2012 @03:23AM (#41447117)
    Quite inspiring title. I will, in fact, use it to augment my collection of suave pick up lines.
  • ... targeting political opponents from within!
  • by dutchwhizzman ( 817898 ) on Tuesday September 25, 2012 @03:34AM (#41447159)
    I'd be very happy if they had those snakes at the local doctors office and they could be trained to crush my kidney stones. Man... this hurts.
  • ...that the creepy bug-machines they put in your stomach in Matrix1 were scifi only.
  • by Chrisq ( 894406 ) on Tuesday September 25, 2012 @03:57AM (#41447247)
    Robot snakes with lasers in your body. What could possibly go wrong! I know that one day we will look back at the times that unreliable human surgeons cut people, but I certainly wouldn't want to be an "early adopter" on this one.
  • access via the mouth, esophagus and stomach, and then through the stomach wall.

    Option 1: the surgery is done via a camera, through the mouth, esophagus and stomach, and then through the stomach wall. Sutures will be also done by remote control - but they have to be secure enough to survive the acid of the stomach, and you better pray that they don't leak because that's bad news.

    Option 2: the surgery is done via a cut in the stomach wall; the surgeon has all the tools and all the visibility in the worl

    • Re:Too complicated (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Herve5 ( 879674 ) on Tuesday September 25, 2012 @04:15AM (#41447301)

      I once got my stomach observed -the classical observation, no surgery.
      The process is a bit shocking (mainly because once you have this big tube inserted in your esophagus you cannot talk anymore, and it's more impressive that you may think)
      I can say they start with an empty stomach, and inflate it (with just air, through the tube) so yes the visibility is near perfect.
      Then within my observation they took samples: basically, they have a sharp tool that will just scorch a bit out, and basically they leave the wound unattended, and it heals, and you even don't feel anything neither at scorch time nor after. (you do feel the scorch traction mind you, a bit like when a dentist throws a tooth away from your mouth: 'hummph' -hey what what is he doing? but then it's just over ;-)
      So, while definitely not a professional myself, I'd say reaching the stomach wall and getting through it *is* easy and not consequential, apart psychologically...

      • by Anonymous Coward

        as a suffer of ulcerative colitis for years including extended hospital stays (but now 1.5 months symptom free, thank you Remicade :) ), it gets psychologically even more intense. i also had an endoscopy performed and i agree, the science of getting a tube into the stomach is basically solved (but you didnt mention if you recieved a sedative or not? i hope so!). but the colon is completely different and this is an area of research that can still be improved upon tremendously. getting something stuck into th

        • My little brother with Crohns went through that hell too as a small child, back when pain mangement was scoffed at. The less invasive and painful it can be the better.
      • Well similar to colonoscopy. Inflate the colon to get a better look around. They don't really tell you how all that air comes out later though I recall a nurse saying "dissipate" over a couple hours. What really happens though is that it most came back out in about twenty seconds when I got home. But because of the lube it was silent otherwise I could have played Yankee Doodle.

    • Complications may necessitate conversion to "Open surgical" approaches, the traditional trans-abdominal wall lapartomy. Option 1b: surgery gets complicated, something gets ruptured (hope its not an artery) and the operation has to be converted to open laparotomy. Option 2b: laparscopic approach via small incisions in the abdominal wall gets complicated, something gets ruptured, and the operation has to be converted to open laparotomy. In either case, open laparotomy with a longer abdominal scar will be n
  • I'm pretty sure this premise undergirds the entirety of the Japanese pornography industry.

  • The surgeon manipulates the robot by pressing pedals and moving levers...

    ... while cackling maniacally and screaming "It's Alive!!!"

  • endoscope (Score:4, Interesting)

    by kenorland ( 2691677 ) on Tuesday September 25, 2012 @05:19AM (#41447491)

    There are plenty of endoscopic surgeries already. People are attaching more actuators to the front to help with steering, but for obvious reasons, you want to keep these things as small as possible. Why you would want to shove the "robot" from the article up your behind is instead of a standard endoscope is beyond me.

  • by alendit ( 1454311 ) on Tuesday September 25, 2012 @05:19AM (#41447493)

    I've got a biological snake that can cure cancer via natural orifices... ...if you know what I mean.

  • by dltaylor ( 7510 ) on Tuesday September 25, 2012 @05:27AM (#41447513)

    Compared to skin (heals rapidly, and can be kept clean while healing with modern methods), puncturing the alimentary canal (mouth to anus) is REALLY stupid. Bathed in dangerous chemicals, hostile bacteria (when not confined to their natural environment), and requiring tricky nutrition for the patient while healing), that is no place to be poking holes into the interior of the body (remember, topologically, it's the same as the outside).

    Using the "snakes" to treat polyps, ulcers, cancers, or other issues within the alimentary canal does have some potential advantages over the combination of both puncturing the skin and the alimentary canal to reach them.

    • Yes, our layman's snap judgement - based on ignorance, popular culture, generalizations, and simplifications - is far more reliable and insightful than peer reviewed research performed by specialists in medicine and backed up by analysis and experimentation.

      That viewpoint certainly justifies the accusation of someone being an 'idiot,' indeed.

  • Robot snakes? Natural orifice surgery? And yet not a single post connecting that to—ahem—any tentacular references? You surprise me, Slashdot.
  • What exactly is natural about robot snakes up your ass ?

  • Cancer Survivor (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Haawkeye ( 2680377 ) on Tuesday September 25, 2012 @09:33AM (#41448609)
    As a cancer survivor the surgery to remove the tumour sucked. Actually the whole experience was not great. However if they have a way of removing it without cutting me up I am all for it. One less thing to recover from! The only good thing was thank god I live in Canada. I had time off work with pay and the entire treatment was free. So while having cancer was bad at least it didn't bankrupt my family.
    • Natural orifice translumenal endoscopic surgery ( NOTES surgery [] is the full name for this type of surgery going through natural orifices. There are a few conferences on it yearly in the US and UK and Europe alone that I know of, and the Japanese also have some conferences on it. The lack of an externally observable scar is one benefit, and the ability of wet mucosal membranes to heal more readily is another benefit. The risk of complications and need to convert to open surgical approaches is unquantified
  • Was this inspired by robot scorpions in your belly-button?
  • ... Roto Rooter truck doing parked outside the ER?

  • hoping the butt snakes don't become self aware and escape into the wild.
  • (warning: pictures of the inside of a person)

    Meanwhile seven children were killed by drone strikes last week and nobody was reported feeling queasy.

    So, this is how societies fail...

  • The snake can grow inside a person and when grown - go out through person's abdomen and go and fight for the world domination! For better effectivnes double-jaws are suggested as well...

Our business in life is not to succeed but to continue to fail in high spirits. -- Robert Louis Stevenson