Robot Catheter Autonomously Navigates Inside a Human Body

Robotics

Bioengineers at Boston Children's Hospital reported the first-ever demonstration of an autonomous robot catheter navigating inside a human body / Photo by: JosephBarillari via Wikimedia Commons

 

Bioengineers at Boston Children's Hospital reported the first-ever demonstration of an autonomous robot catheter navigating inside a human body in the journal Science Robotics.

According to a Science Daily report, the team programmed the robot to navigate along the walls of a beating heart still filled with blood to reach a leaky valve without the help of a surgeon. Up to his knowledge, senior investigator Pierre Dupont, Ph.D. said that this is the first-ever report of a completely autonomous robot that made its way to a target location within the human body.

The report added that Dupont sees that the future of healthcare includes autonomous robots helping surgeons conduct complex operations, decreasing fatigue, and allowing doctors to concentrate on the most sophisticated maneuvers which, in turn, improves outcomes.

"The right way to think about this is through the analogy of a fighter pilot and a fighter plane," the senior investigator said. "The fighter plane takes on the routine tasks like flying the plane, so the pilot can focus on the higher-level tasks of the mission."

With the use of an optical touch sensor developed by Dupont and his team, the robotic catheter was able to navigate the body on its own while also relying on information about the map of the cardiac anatomy and preoperative scans, Science Daily stated.

It added that the touch sensors used artificial intelligence and image processing algorithms to support the catheter in determining its location in the heart and what direction it should follow.

Demo of the robot had Dupont's team performing a "highly technical and demanding procedure known as paravalvular aortic leak closure." The procedure fixes replacement heart valves that started to leak around the edges. When the robot reached the location of the leak, a cardiac surgeon then took over and injected a plug to close the leak.