Robert Webster III, the Richard A. Schroeder Professor of Mechanical...
Robert Webster III, the Richard A. Schroeder Professor of Mechanical Engineering (left) and Dr. Duke Harrell, a urologic surgeon at VUMC, aim to make prostate surgery less invasive with a small endoscopic robotic system.
Source: VUMC

Hand-held robot points to less invasive prostate surgery

Vanderbilt collaborators focused on minimally invasive prostate surgery are developing an endoscopic robotic system with two-handed dexterity at a much smaller scale than existing options.

A key part of the design – telescoping, curved, concentric tubes – received U.S. patent protection in March 2019, the same month the principal investigators secured a $2.1 million R01 grant from the National Institutes of Health to advance the project.

Robert Webster III, the Richard A. Schroeder Professor of Mechanical Engineering, and Dr. Duke Herrell, a urologic surgeon at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, seek to enable surgeons to remove the prostate through the urethra and perform delicate reconstructive suturing. “The concentric tube idea lets us make our manipulators an order of magnitude smaller than the surgical robots doctors use today,” Webster said. “This, along with accessing the prostate from a natural orifice will dramatically reduce surgical invasiveness, helping patients heal faster.”

Both Webster and Herrell are core affiliates with the Vanderbilt Institute for Surgery and Engineering. Collaboration is central to the mission of VISE, where engineers, surgeons and other experts work side-by-side to develop next-generation instruments that require less tissue and organ disruption and improve surgical outcomes. Giving surgeons two-handed dexterity with small tentacle-like arms at the tip of the endoscope is a significant advancement. “Making complex endoscopy easier is a game-changer for multiple surgical and interventional specialties, and most importantly for patients,” said Herrell, a Professor of Urologic Surgery, Biomedical and Mechanical Engineering, and director of Minimally Invasive Urologic Surgery and Robotics at VUMC.

In American men prostate cancer is the second most common cancer behind skin cancer, and the second leading cause of cancer death, behind lung cancer. Up to 1 in 9 U.S. men will develop prostate cancer, and about 1 in 41 will die of it.

In the U.S. alone more than 90,000 prostate surgeries are performed each year, many as open procedures with an incision 8 to 10 inches long made below the navel. In laparoscopic and robot-assisted laparoscopic prostatectomies, surgeons make several small incisions across the belly for insertion of surgical tools and a camera.

The Vanderbilt project would make the surgery much less invasive by introducing tiny surgical instruments through the natural opening provided by the urethra, a process called endoscopic transurethral prostatectomy. The approach would eliminate the need to dissect through healthy tissues from the abdomen into the pelvic area and cause less disruption to the the nerves that control continence and erectile function.

This is the first rigid endoscopic robotic system to provide two-handed dexterity at this size. Webster and Herrell jointed invented the concept to deliver needle-sized robotic arms through a standard endoscope.

Subscribe to our newsletter

Related articles

Mouth and throat cancer: Robotic surgery may improve outcomes

Mouth and throat cancer: Robotic surgery may improve outcomes

Robotic surgery for patients with early stage, oropharyngeal squamous cell cancer is associated with improved health outcomes, including better long-term survival.

Single-port robotic surgery speeds recovery for prostate cancer patient

Single-port robotic surgery speeds recovery for prostate cancer patient

UT Southwestern has become the first medical center in Texas to use a robotic tool that allows surgeons to perform complicated operations using just a single incision.

First-in-world robot-assisted spinal surgery

First-in-world robot-assisted spinal surgery

Robotic approach assists with a three-part, two-day complex procedure for rare tumor removal.

Endoscopic robotic system used for treating cancer

Endoscopic robotic system used for treating cancer

Researchers have developed an robotic system to enhance the safety and efficacy of endoscopic submucosal dissection (ESD) for the treatment of gastrointestinal cancer.

Surgeons successfully treat brain aneurysms using a robot

Surgeons successfully treat brain aneurysms using a robot

Using a robot to treat brain aneurysms is feasible and could allow for improved precision when placing stents, coils and other devices.

Robotic partial nephrectomy benefits patients with kidney cancer

Robotic partial nephrectomy benefits patients with kidney cancer

Robotic partial nephrectomy results in better outcomes than either open or laparoscopic partial nephrectomy for patients with early kidney cancer.

Bladder cancer: robotic surgery and open surgery are equally effective

Bladder cancer: robotic surgery and open surgery are equally effective

The first comprehensive study comparing the outcomes of robotic surgery to those of traditional open surgery in any organ has found that the surgeries are equally effective in treating bladder cancer.

A pen to pin down the fringes of cancer

A pen to pin down the fringes of cancer

The MasSpec Pen has shown to accurately differentiate healthy and cancerous tissue from banked pancreas samples during surgery.

Simulator helps robots sharpen their cutting skills

Simulator helps robots sharpen their cutting skills

A simulation engine predicts the forces acting on a knife as it cuts through soft materials, a capability that could have applications for safer surgical robotics.

Popular articles

Photo

The “RoboWig” untangle your hair

Nurses typically spend 18 to 40 percent of their time performing direct patient care tasks, oftentimes for many patients and with little time to spare. Personal care robots that brush your hair could provide substantial help and relief.

Subscribe to Newsletter