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A new era of robotic-assisted surgery

Medicaroid’s robotic-assisted surgery system, hinotoriTM, with its eight-axis arms and full high-definition, three-dimensional imaging.Source: Medicaroid

It’s the Cambrian explosion of robotic-assisted surgery systems. With the expiry of da Vinci’s patents in 2019, companies around the world are racing to develop affordable and usable systems with the most advanced functions.

In August 2020, Medicaroid’s hinotori™ Surgical Robot System became the first robotic-assisted surgery system born in Japan to win regulatory approval from the country’s Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare.

A new phase for robotic-assisted surgery

“The development of surgical robots has entered a new phase where points of differentiation rest on convenience for the surgeon, who gain high manoeuverability and don’t have working space restricted by the human-size robotic arms,” says Kobe University’s president, Masato Fujisawa, a pioneering urologist who partnered with Medicaroid to develop the hinotori.

The hinotori features arms with eight axes, enabling them to perform the same movements as human arms. It also has a three-dimensional endoscope and a high-definition screen to assist the surgeon controlling the arms. Currently, there are around 400 robotic-assisted surgery systems in Japan, where ownership is limited to large hospitals that have budgets large enough to afford multi-million dollar robots and operating theatres big enough to accommodate them. The compact size of the system will help surgical robots become more common, not only in Japan, but globally.

Photograph of the first clinical operation using the hinotori, which was conducted at International Clinical Cancer Research Center of Kobe University.Source: Medicaroid

Kobe University surgeons have completed 15 prostatectomy procedures for prostate cancer with the hinotori since its installation in December 2020. “I foresee that all urologic operations will be robot-assisted within the coming decade,” says Fujisawa.

The future of surgery

The advent of 5G networks is expanding possibilities for treatments using surgical robots. With the capacity to instantly transmit ultrahigh-resolution medical images of massive data size without delaying control signals, 5G brings the possibility for remote surgery closer to reality. In April 2021, Kobe University, Medicaroid and the Japanese telecommunications company NTT Docomo succeeded in performing a remote-surgery simulation using Docomo’s 5G network.

Medicaroid is working on next-generation training that employs artificial intelligence and simulates operations based on the technical data of experienced surgeons.

“The primary objective of the hinotori is to realize the dream of a brighter future,” says Fujisawa. “To achieve that, we must continue to develop one-of-a-kind solutions that deliver new value.”


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