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Archive June 2016 XVII, No. 6

What's New for Minimally Invasive Surgery?

Advanced imaging, robotic assistance and other looks into laparoscopy's future at the SAGES exhibit hall.

Sharona Ross, MD


Dr. Ross AFFORDABLE ROBOTICS Dr. Ross (seated) checks out the ALF-X surgical robotic system at the TransEnterix booth. The company says ALF-X provides robotic benefits at an affordable cost.

In minimally invasive surgery, smaller incisions and the ability to visualize minuscule details make a big difference. I'm always on the lookout for improvements and innovations, and I found many in the exhibit hall at the Society of American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons' conference in Boston in March that were worth a look. Here's my take on what I saw.

utoLap Image-Guided Laparoscope Positioning System

Medical Surgical Technologies
AutoLap Image-Guided Laparoscope Positioning System
This ultra-responsive robotic assistant points the camera wherever your instruments go. A lot of surgeons who do single-incision laparoscopy aren't used to holding the scope steady and don't like stopping the procedure to adjust it, but since we're control freaks it's difficult to rely on someone else to handle it for us. This robotic arm, which secures to the table and clamps the scope, gives us control while letting us focus on our technique. Through its image-analysis software, you tag an instrument for it to recognize, then it tracks and follows your instrument's movements in real time, without manual intervention. You can still move the scope by hand while it's in the robot's grip, if necessary, or wirelessly through a small joystick on a single-use remote control ring. It seems pretty intuitive to learn and, best of all, it's compatible with standard scopes, tools, imaging systems and OR tables, so you can use it with all your own equipment. It lists at $100,000 to $120,000, with a disposables kit (sterile drapes, attachment clips and the wireless controller) at $150 to $200.

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