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Jun 7, 2018,  by Allianz Partners Business Insights

Enhanced imaging could cut mistakes in robot-assisted operations

Images produced by photoacoustic technology would enhance quality of vision for surgeons in robot-aided surgery. The method would help locate the ureter and uterine arteries and reduce the incidence of ureter injury during hysterectomies. As well as avoiding complications, it would shorten hospital stays and recovery periods. 

Da vinci Robot


The use of photoacoustic imaging to guide robot-aided surgery has many benefits and would help reduce the number of injuries suffered during operations, particularly in the case of hysterectomies, as reported by Health Data Management.  


Risk of uterus damage 


According to a recent study conducted by US researchers and published in the Journal of Medical Imaging in February, many of the 600,000 hysterectomies conducted each year in the country result in significant ureter damage. The operation involves cutting and cauterising the uterus’ arteries without hurting the ureter, which is just a few millimetres away. 

When damage occurs, it is not detected immediately in 70% of cases and requires additional operations. The researchers support the use of robots in carrying out these operations and state that robots controlled by surgeons, such as the da Vinci teleoperated surgical robot, provide increased dexterity, less blood loss and reduced hospital stays and recovery periods


Photoacoustic imaging a preferred option to ultrasound 


The use of photoacoustic imaging would make hysterectomies safer, however, as it offers two advantages over ultrasound: it would be easier to use during surgery and would also enable the uterine arteries to be distinguished from the ureter. The images could be displayed on the same master console that the surgeon uses for the teleoperation. 

The authors of the study succeeded in linking the exact data and vision provided by this type of imaging with the programme that operates the robotic tool. During hysterectomies it can also detect and target the uterine arteries much more effectively. Researchers believe that photoacoustic technology could have other benefits beyond removal of the uterus. Described as a “promising approach” it could also be applied to other gynaecological operations conducted with the assistance of the da Vinci robot.


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