Robot guides needle into lungs more accurately than human doctors

A robot guided a flexible needle into the lungs of pigs, outperforming humans using straight needles


9 December 2022

image of the steerable needle robot showing the robotic actuation unit and bronchoscope. Note that the steerable needle is not shown

The steerable needle robot

Alan Kuntz , Maxwell Emerson , Tayfun Efe Ertop , Inbar Fried, Mengyu Fu, Janine Hoelscher, Margaret Rox, Jason Akulian, Erin A. Gillaspie, Yueh Z. Lee, Fabien Maldonado, Robert J. Webster III, Ron Alterovitz

A medical robot can guide a flexible needle through the lungs of living pigs without requiring human surgeons to directly control the robot’s actions. Over several additional tests on lungs removed from the pigs, the robot placed the needle more precisely than human doctors using a standard straight needle procedure.

“There are many procedures, including biopsy or directed drug delivery or localised radiation cancer treatment, that involve using a needle to get to a specific target to perform the procedure where you’re manoeuvring that needle inside …

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