Robotic surgery has brought significant advancements to the field of medicine, and transoral robotic surgery (TORS) is no exception. A review paper published in the journal Cyborg and Bionic Systems by scientists at The Chinese University of Hong Kong delved into the mechanisms behind TORS, specifically distal dexterity, variable stiffness (VS), and triangulation.
TORS has revolutionized the diagnosis and treatment of upper aerodigestive tract diseases, offering advantages such as more efficient and precise surgical operations, faster postoperative recovery, and improved functional outcomes. However, there are limitations to traditional transoral surgeries, including constrained insertion ports, lengthy and indirect passageways, and narrow anatomical structures. To overcome these limitations, robot-assisted technologies are being explored.
In their review, the study authors discussed different mechanisms related to TORS, including distal dexterity, VS, and triangulation. Distal dexterity is the core research mechanism of surgical robots, and it can be achieved through various designs such as serial mechanisms, continuum mechanisms, parallel mechanisms, and hybrid mechanisms. VS mechanisms, on the other hand, focus on achieving flexibility by varying stiffness and include phase-transition-based VS mechanisms, jamming-based VS mechanisms, and structure-based VS mechanisms. Triangulation mechanisms aim to provide enough workspace and traction for various operations.
Despite some encouraging outcomes and marketing approvals, current robotic surgical systems still face technical challenges presented by TORS. To overcome these challenges, the development of new surgical robotic systems (SRSs) is necessary. New mechanisms, like flexible parallel mechanisms that use super elastic materials, show promise in addressing challenges related to size, workspace, flexibility, dexterity, load capacity, and safety.
Moving forward, researchers and medical professionals are encouraged to collaborate in exploring the mechanisms of TORS and developing improved surgical robots. These advancements will not only overcome the limitations of current designs but also unlock the full potential of TORS in managing oropharyngeal cancers.
What is transoral robotic surgery (TORS)?
Transoral robotic surgery (TORS) is a surgical technique that uses robotic systems to perform operations in the upper aerodigestive tract. It offers advantages such as increased precision, faster recovery, and improved outcomes.
What are the limitations of traditional transoral surgeries?
Traditional transoral surgeries often face limitations such as constrained insertion ports, lengthy and indirect passageways, and narrow anatomical structures. These limitations can be overcome through the use of robot-assisted technologies.
What are the mechanisms discussed in the review paper?
The review paper discusses the mechanisms of distal dexterity, variable stiffness (VS), and triangulation in developing transoral robotic surgery (TORS). Distal dexterity refers to the ability of surgical robots to move and orient end effectors, while VS mechanisms focus on achieving flexibility by varying stiffness. Triangulation mechanisms aim to provide workspace and traction for various operations.
What are the future developments in surgical robotic systems (SRSs)?
Future developments in surgical robotic systems (SRSs) aim to address the challenges presented by TORS. This includes the use of flexible parallel mechanisms that can adapt to the flexible deformation of super elastic materials, leading to improved size, workspace, flexibility, dexterity, load capacity, and safety.