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Robotically Steerable Probe aims at minimally invasive surgery, moves through gelatin like a champ

Brian Heater

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Who doesn't prefer to have the word "surgery" preceded by the phrase "minimally invasive?" During our trip to the Harvard research labs today, we were given a demo of the Robotically Steerable Thermal Ablation Probe, a device designed to help minimize the number of injections required when treating something like a tumor. The machine is guided by a x-ray image onto which a doctor can choose a number of destinations. Rather than being forced to re-inject the patient, the outer cannula moves up and down to locate the position, with a thinner curved stylet extends from within it, reaching the designated area. In order to hit subsequent spots, the stylet retracts back into the cannula, which adjusts its up and down position, extending once again to reach the area. Applications for the technology extend beyond just injection, including the possibility of extracting tissue samples from a patient.

You can check out a demo of the device doing its work after the break. But don't worry, it's just gelatine.

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