Minimally invasive surgery for some clinical applications is replacing the traditional “open access” approach, and has been associated with patient benefits such as reduced blood loss, fewer infections and faster recovery.

Led by professor Sanja Dogramadzi, Bristol Robotics Laboratory, the pan-EU research team identified a need for better tools in robot-assisted minimally invasive surgery to support the surgeon’s performance.

The researchers will develop modern biomedical tools that mimic complex human dexterity and senses. These can be worn by the surgeon and transmit their movements to the closed surgical interface without restrictions. This will reduce the overall cognitive, manipulation and training demand.

Three key pieces of hardware will be the starting points in developing the new surgical robotic system. Exoskeletons will fit over the surgeon’s hands, which will control the instruments inside the body – a newly developed surgical “gripper” which mimics the thumb and two fingers of the hand.

The instrument, which goes inside the body, will have haptic abilities, allowing the surgeon to ‘feel’ the tissues and organs inside the body, just like they do during conventional surgery.