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Watch This Mechanical Arm Do Surgery on a Cherry

Snip snip.

by Samantha Cole
Feb 23 2017, 11:00am

In another leap forward for fruit-based surgical accomplishments — and for humans, too — researchers funded by the National Science Foundation developed a mechanical instrument for better laparoscopic operations. They're now bringing the device to market through the start-up medical supply company FlexDex.

The surgeon wears the device on his or her arm like a sleeve, grasping a trigger that makes it look like one of those reaching tools your grandma used for too-high cabinets. Pivoting at the wrist, it bends and twists to move the pincers at the end.

The movement is based on the concept of parallel kinematics, the same mechanics principles that influenced that adorable Peeqo gif-bot, which examines how one movement influences the whole chain.

Traditionally, minimally invasive instruments come with a tradeoff: If you're working at a hospital with a small budget, you're likely using manual instruments. If your practice has a couple million dollars on hand and time for training, it might invest in a robotic system like the da Vinci surgical robot, which has fewer complications and faster healing for the patient.

The researchers created a goldilocks solution: Not as expensive as the whole bot, but more intuitive than older, handheld tools.

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