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Fiber lasers and robots for minimally invasive surgery

Recently a team of engineers from the U.S. has created a microrobot that allows for directing a laser system within the body to perform minimally invasive surgery. The thing is that traditional energy-delivering tools are very complex compared to the new fiber laser. It is necessary to put them close to the target site resulting in limitations of accuracy.
Additionally, such laser systems can lead to unwanted burns in adjacent tissues and smoke appearance. Even though fiber laser systems are regarded as very promising solutions, they are required to meet additional requirements. Herewith, the direct application of current fiber lasers for minimally invasive surgery is limited by the following factors:

  • the size of surgical systems;
  • levels of accuracy;
  • repositioning, steering, and manipulation.

The novel fiber laser system combined with the microrobotic end-effector can be widely applied in traditional endoscopic systems for application in minimally invasive surgery. The microrobot has a size of 6×16 mm and it provides high speed and accuracy and can operate with current endoscopic devices.
The team members claim that their fiber laser technology promotes accurate direction of laser beams at small target sites in complex patterns to advance minimally invasive surgery by laser systems inside the body. Such benefits as “a large range of articulation, minimal footprint, and fast and precise action” make novel fiber laser systems very potential to increase surgical capabilities in a plug-and-play fashion.
It should be noted that surgical fiber laser has to be both of the diameters of a drinking straw and relatively nimble. The operating principle of the microrobotic laser system is based on the three compact mirrors that fastly rotate to direct and redirect the laser beam in a compact surgical system.
Therefore, the microfabrication technique is used to make the system smaller. Herewith, this fiber laser technology offers a highly efficient fabrication process. The fiber laser has been already tested and demonstrated the high efficiency of microrobots in creating and following complex directions.
Thus, numerous laser beam ablations can be carried out with fast speed over a large range and a high level of precision. The team showed efficient performance of the fiber laser system by integrating it at the end of an endoscope. This non-disruptive solution enables the team to increase the opportunities of minimally invasive surgeries in the human body with life-altering or potentially life-saving impact.
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