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Advances in technology have shaped the history of surgical procedures. Recent developments have allowed surgical procedures to become less invasive than traditional open procedures. The transition to Minimally Invasive Surgery (MIS) has resulted in decreased recovery times, improved cosmetic results, and reduced costs. For these reasons, there is interest in further reducing the invasiveness of surgical procedures by accessing the abdominal cavity through a single incision, such as with Laparoendoscopic Single-Site (LESS) surgery. Added complexities, such as unintuitive controls and limited dexterity, prevent the widespread adoption of LESS for complex surgical procedures. Multi-functional in vivo surgical robots have been designed to overcome the issues associated with LESS procedures.
Three different generations of four-degree-of-freedom (4-DOF) miniature in vivo surgical robots have been designed, analyzed, and tested to determine their feasibility for LESS procedures. The robotic platform consists of a two-armed robotic prototype and a remote surgeon interface. For surgical procedures, each arm of the robot is completely inserted individually through a small incision and then assembled within the abdominal cavity. Benchtop tests and in vivo surgical procedures have been used to demonstrate the efficacy of using a robotic platform over traditional laparoscopic tools. The robotic systems have shown significant benefits including access to all quadrants in the peritoneal cavity, improved visualization and dexterity, and intuitive controls.