KAIST develops a flexible, remote endoscopic surgery robot: K-FLEX, which is now undergoing porcine trials since September. Earlier this year, the system was selected as the best robot of the Hamlyn Surgical Robot Challenge [link].

K-Flex at KAIST

“Successful experiments of pig gallbladder dissection were performed using the  robot, developed entirely (except endoscope module) at KAIST. Doctors are having difficulty with settings used in minimally invasive surgery. It does not provide intuitive hand-eye coordination like open surgery, and physical problems such as increased fatigue and hand trembling are caused by ergonomically bad posture.

To solve these problems, robot technology has been introduced, and many surgical robots such as da Vinci and RAVEN have been developed. Surgical robots can be operated intuitively to make a master console and to restore ergonomics in the operation. It is possible to correct the hand tremor and perform precise movements, and to move freely compared to existing laparoscopic instruments.
Conventional laparoscopic robotic surgery was mostly robotic surgery using straight surgical tools. This surgical robot has a long and straight surgical tool, so it was difficult to access the lesion inside the complex organs. Researchers at KAIST developed the surgical robot ‘K-FLEX’, and succeeded in cutting a porcine living gallbladder.
K-FELX, a surgical robot developed by Korean researchers, has a flexible body, so it can be operated through natural openings, such as the esophagus and anus. On July 17th, the research team conducted a preliminary clinical trial in pigs. It is an experiment to incise a gallbladder using a flexible endoscopic surgical robot inserted into the abdominal cavity. Precision control technology of the intraabdominal robot and small joint design technology are key technologies.”

Contributed blog post from http://surgrob.blogspot.com/
Tamás Haidegger is the author of this blog, and is also an author in the new issue of AIMed Magazine, issue 05, a Deep Dive on Robotic Technology & Virtual Assistants, which you can access here.