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New robotic system for keyhole surgery to be released in the UK

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A British company has designed the Versius robot in Cambridge by CMR Surgical, the Versius is smaller and the company believes it will be more flexible than existing robots, allowing it to perform a wider range of operations.

Versius has independent modular arms which are “quick and easy to set up”, said Luke Hares, co-founder of CMR Surgical. “This means hospitals will be able to keep it busy, making it economical to run.”

Each of the robot arms has flexible joints mimicking a human arm, which are controlled by a surgeon sitting at a console using two joysticks and a 3D screen.

Robotic systems use laparoscopic, also known as keyhole, surgery, which is carried out with special instruments via small incisions. This minimally invasive method leads to reduced pain and faster recovery for patients. Robotic surgery also gives surgeons a better magnified view and increased dexterity.

“It takes around 80 hours to teach suturing with manual laparoscopic tools and some surgeons find it impossible to master,” said Addenbrooke’s Hospital surgeon Mark Slack, a co-founder of CMR Surgical.

“By contrast, it takes half an hour to teach using Versius – this will enable many more surgeons to deliver the benefits of keyhole surgery.”

The systemswill be used mostly for prostate, bladder and gynaecological surgery, although their range of operations is expandable.

Nadine Hachach-Haram, a plastic and reconstructive surgeon at St Thomas’ Hospital, London, said robotics areperformingan increasingly important role in the operating theatre.

“The newer generation robots are more versatile, compact and cost-effective, which means we can deliver robotic surgery locally and not in large hospitals with dedicated robotic suites,” she said.

She adds, “Surgeons will remain in control but as we develop the human-robot interface there may be simple parts of an operation, such as suturing or closing a wound that may be automated.”

The Versius robot is expected to receive a European health and safety approval mark within the next few months.

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