European Patent Office Proves The Pioneering Character Of The Movement System Of The University Of Malaga's Medical Robot

This device, specially used in operations to extract the vesicle, has been officially acknowledged, which will allow its exclusive commercialisation and production all over the world without interfering with other foreign models.

The robot, the first of its kind made in Spain, is designed to assist surgeons during laparoscope operations, a low impact surgical technique that consists of small incisions through which a video mini-camera and the instruments that are necessary for the operation are introduced into the patient.

’When you operate with this type of robots, there is the problem of knowing exactly where the incision point must be made in the patient’s abdomen so as to know how deep the optical device has been introduced’, Víctor Muñoz explained; he is leading this project and is part of the research lines of Ingeniería de Sistemas y Automática research group. Currently, robots like the American Da Vinci, with about 100 million dollars financing, solve this difficulty by using a previous complex mechanical system, whereas others use laser or fix the patient and the machine to the stretcher. In turn, the University of Malaga’s robot, financed with about 18,000 euros, avoids all those hindrances using control algorithms and putting a passive wrist in its articulated arm that allows it to move it in any direction.

More advantages and commercialisation

The system of movement of the laparoscope multiplies the advantages of the robot. According to Muñoz, you can carry out an operation which needs more than one incision as it does not require any previous gauging. ‘It is very easy to use, it immediately starts up, it does not require maintenance and it can easily be adapted to any operation theatre’, Muñoz said, who is also the director of the Oficina de Transferencia de Resultados de Investigación of the University of Malaga.

Today, the research group and the company SENER are carrying out the work prior to the commercialisation of the robot. Once the knowledge on electronics and cinematic configuration of the prototype is transferred, they will focus their attention on improving the software. ‘We intend to reach the quality levels of the U.S.’ Food and Drugs Administration’, Muñoz said. If we succeed in doing so, the robot can be easily launched into the foreign markets and would also be the first one of its kind to get a certificate’, its creator believes.

The trial stage and the beginning of making the prototypes to commercialise the robot will take place throughout 2007. Clinical trials will be carried out then and the product will be adapted to the EC Market; that is, its electromagnetic compatibility and electrical safety will be adapted, and it will be tested on humans. However, the robot has already been used in operations on over 20 people at Hospital Clínico de Málaga.

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The development of medical equipment, products and technical procedures is characterized by high research and development costs in a variety of fields related to the study of human medicine.

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