Voice-controlled surgical robot ready to assist in minimally invasive heart surgery procedures

New Orleans 27 January 1998 The Automated Endoscopic System for Optimal Positioning (AESOP) is a mouthful of explanation to designate a surgeon-controlled robotic arm capable of manoeuvring and positioning an endoscope in minimally heart surgery procedures. The device has been developed by Computer Motion Inc., a company based in Santa Barbara, and recently has been cleared by the American Food and Drug Administration. At the 34th Annual Meeting of the Society of Thoracic Surgeons, the voice-controlled AESOP® 3000 surgical robot was launched with the proud and enthusiastic ambition to try and overcome present human limitations in surgery by means of advanced technology.

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The Automated Endoscopic System for Optimal Positioning (AESOP) is a mouthful of explanation to designate a surgeon-controlled robotic arm capable of manoeuvring and positioning an endoscope in minimally heart surgery procedures. The device has been developed by Computer Motion Inc., a company based in Santa Barbara, and recently has been cleared by the American Food and Drug Administration. At the 34th Annual Meeting of the Society of Thoracic Surgeons, the voice-controlled AESOP® 3000 surgical robot was launched with the proud and enthusiastic ambition to try and overcome present human limitations in surgery by means of advanced technology.

The AESOP 3000 robot has been created in the shape of a human arm allowing the surgeon to execute direct and precise control over the endoscope using simple verbal commands. Indeed, the surgical arm incorporates speech recognition technology and acts in synchrony with the surgeon's voice. Thus, the endoscope, a specially designed optical tube, connected to a medical video camera and light source, is introduced into the body in order to view the operation on a video monitor. The robotic arm automates the tedious and tiresome task of holding the endoscope, providing stable vision and consistent, predictable scope movements.

Since the medical video camera magnifies the view op to fifteen times, even the slightest natural hand tremor can adversely affect the surgical approach but thanks to the AESOP robot, a steady operative field is being guaranteed so that surgeons can perform minimally invasive procedures in the chest cavity with a high degree of confidence and effectiveness. Patients are suffering far less from pain and trauma than during comparable open-heart interventions. Consequently, they need shorter hospital stays and recover faster than usually.

Dr. Yulun Wang, chief technical officer and founder of Computer Motion, states that the AESOP robotic technology constitutes the platform from which the company is building to enable new minimally invasive microsurgery procedures such as endoscopic coronary artery bypass grafting (E-CABG). A clinical advisory team, composed of leading cardiothoracic surgeons, has thoroughly tested the robotic arm and has announced the successful completion of its task, last November.

In its strive for cost reducing surgical systems, the company already is designing new products that leverage the core technologies underlying the AESOP family of products. In this regard, the ZEUS(tm) robotic surgical system for endoscopic coronary artery bypass grafting is currently under development as well as the HERMES(tm) OR Control Centre, a centralised operating system to supervise an integrated network of 'smart' operating room devices through a surgeon's voice commands. No doubt that the operating theatre will be submitted to a substantial change in the years to come.


Leslie Versweyveld

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