Robotic surgical assistants have become commonplace in many hospitals. Robotics has the potential to give surgeons the dexterity, patience, and sensitivity that humans can never achieve with their own hands.
Researchers at the University of Bern in Switzerland have been working on an image guided microsurgery robot that can perform highly sensitive cochlear implantations, procedures that require drilling near fragile and critical tissues. They have performed the first procedures using the new system, offering doctors and patients more confidence of a safe procedure.The technology involves pre-surgical planning, stereotactic image guidance, nerve stimulation that can warn if a drill is getting close, and sensors that are able to distinguish between tissue densities during drilling toward the middle ear. This is important because cochlear implants are difficult to place safely and results tend to vary from patient to patient.