Patients at St Mary’s hospital in London are being seen by “Sister Mary” a medical robot which allows the controlling doctor to visually examine and communicate with a patient from anywhere in the world.
The doctor uses a joystick to control the robot and can view the patient, their records and any test results from afar, while the patient sees the doctor’s image on the robot’s face and they can have a two-way conversation with their physician.
Meanwhile, surgeons at Guy’s Hospital in London have completed the first live transplant operation using a robot.
The machine plucked a kidney from one body using two mechanical arms. Conventional surgery was then employed to implant the kidney into the other body.
The da Vinci robot has been used before in Britain to remove diseased organs and carry out simple reconstructive surgery. But this is the first time anything as critical as a live organ transplant has been attempted with the machine in the UK.
Two robot arms were inserted through 8mm holes in the body. Their “hands”, wielding fine surgical tools, snipped and sewed in response to finger and wrist movements made by the operator sitting at a console a few feet away.
The operator’s finger movements are communicated to the robot via loops of Velcro wrapped around the thumb and forefinger. Although the mechanical movements are slower than a human’s, the machine compensates for any tremor, so they are delivered with rock-steady precision.