Sony, the Tokyo-based electronics giant, is stepping into the surgical robotics arena with its innovative microsurgery assistance robot. Designed to aid in precision microsurgical procedures, this robot marks Sony’s ambitious entry into a rapidly evolving field.

Sony’s newly developed robot is engineered to handle the delicate and precise tasks required in microsurgery, such as working on veins and nerves. The system includes a highly sensitive control device that tracks the movements of a surgeon’s hands and fingers, replicating these movements on a small surgical instrument. This instrument mimics the dexterity and range of motion of the human wrist, enhancing the precision and efficiency of surgical procedures.

One of the standout features of Sony’s robot is its capability for automatic surgical instrument exchange. This innovation addresses common issues in traditional surgical robotics, such as interruptions and delays due to manual instrument changes. By miniaturizing the surgical instruments, multiple tools can be stored compactly and exchanged quickly and automatically by the robot’s left and right arms, without the need for human intervention.

The robot’s design includes a tabletop console operated by the surgeon and a robotic arm that performs the procedure. The surgeon’s movements on the console are scaled down to between one-half and one-tenth of their original size at the instrument tip, allowing for extreme precision.

Sony’s prototype is equipped with a 1.3-type 4K OLED microdisplay from Sony Semiconductor Solutions Corporation. This high-definition display provides surgeons with clear images of the surgical area and the instruments, improving accuracy and control.

The control device used in the system is both compact and highly sensitive, mirroring the delicate movements of human fingertips. The surgical instrument’s multiple joints allow for smooth, precise movements, closely resembling those of the human wrist. According to Sony, this setup enables “nimble operation and smooth movement that almost feels like the robot intervention doesn’t exist.”

In a February experiment at Aichi Medical University, surgeons and medical practitioners who were not specialized in microsurgery used the prototype to successfully create an anastomosis in animal blood vessels. This marked the world’s first instance of microvascular anastomosis performed with a surgical assistance robot featuring automatic instrument exchange.

Munekazu Naito, a professor in the Department of Anatomy at Aichi Medical University, highlighted the significance of this breakthrough. “Microsurgery requires months to years of training for even skilled physicians to master. In this collaborative study, Sony’s surgical assistance robot technology was tested to assess its capacity to enhance the skills of novice microsurgeons. The results demonstrated exceptional control over the movements of inexperienced physicians, enabling them to perform intricate tasks with adeptness akin to that of seasoned experts.”

Sony plans to collaborate with university medical departments and healthcare institutions to further develop and validate its robotic assistance technology. The primary goal is to address challenges in the medical field and advance medical practices through innovative robotic solutions.

This groundbreaking technology positions Sony as a formidable contender in the surgical robotics market, offering promising advancements in precision surgery and potentially transforming the landscape of medical procedures.

By Impact Lab