A new robotic surgery system is expected to start operating on NHS patients next year.
Built by CMR Surgical in Cambridge, the next-generation surgical robot, Versius, is designed to be a small, portable and cost-effective robotic system for minimal access surgery.
Systems like this are used for laparoscopic, or keyhole, surgery, which is carried out with special instruments via small incisions.
Versius is a rival to the da Vinci system from US company Intuitive Surgical, which is used in more than 70 hospitals in the UK, BBC News reports.
The new robot is smaller, with independent modular arms which are “quick and easy to set up“, said Luke Hares, co-founder of CMR Surgical. “This means hospitals will be able to keep it busy, making it economical to run.”
Surgeons control the robot arms through a console which has a 3D screen and two joysticks.
CMR Surgical said it wants to remove barriers that currently exist to robotic surgery.
“The promise of reduced trauma, faster recovery and improved clinical outcomes has been the driving force behind the development of surgical robotics for decades,” the company said. “However, despite these benefits, robotic surgery is not yet performing the majority of available surgical procedures due to current constraints, leaving millions of patients worldwide still undergoing open surgery.”
Dr Nadine Hachach-Haram, a plastic and reconstructive surgeon at St Thomas’ Hospital, London, told the BBC that in the future, robots may do some elements of surgery independently.
“Surgeons will remain in control but as we develop the human-robot interface there may be simple parts of an operation, such as suturing or closing a wound, that may be automated,” she explained.
The new robotic system will be used in hospitals in the UK and continental Europe in the next year, followed by a wider international rollout.