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Natural Orifice Translumenal Endoscopic Surgery (NOTES) is potentially the next step in minimally invasive surgery. This type of procedure could reduce patient trauma through eliminating external incisions, but poses many surgical challenges that are not sufficiently overcome with current flexible endoscopy tools. A robotic platform that attempts to emulate a laparoscopic interface for performing NOTES procedures is being developed to address these challenges. These robots are capable of entering the peritoneal cavity through the upper gastrointestinal tract, and once inserted are not constrained by incisions, allowing for visualization and manipulations throughout the cavity. In addition to using these miniature in vivo robots for NOTES procedures, these devices can also be used to perform semi-autonomous surgical tasks. Such tasks could be useful in situations where the patient is in a location far from a trained surgeon. A surgeon at a remote location could control the robot even if the communication link between surgeon and patient has low bandwidth or very high latency. This paper details work towards using the miniature robot to perform simple surgical tasks autonomously.
Date of Conference: 3-6 Sept. 2009