Commercial surgical robots have been in clinical use since the mid-1990s, supporting surgeons in various tasks. In the past decades, many systems emerged as research platforms, and a few entered the global market. This paper summarizes the currently available surgical systems and research directions in the broader field of surgical robotics. The widely deployed teleoperated manipulators aim to enhance human cognitive and physical skills and provide smart tools for surgeons, while image-guided robotics focus on surpassing human limitations by introducing automated targeting and treatment delivery methods. Both concepts are discussed based on prototypes and commercial systems. Through concrete examples the possible future development paths of surgical robots are illustrated. While research efforts are taking different approaches to improve the capacity of such systems, the aim of this survey is to assess their maturity from the commercialization point of view.
As many studies show, there is a relation between the tissue’s mechanical characteristics and some specific diseases. Knowing this relationship would help early diagnosis or microsurgery. In this paper, a new method for measuring the viscoelastic properties of soft materials at the microscale is proposed. This approach is based on the adoption of a microsystem whose mechanical structure can be reduced to a compliant four bar linkage where the connecting rod is substituted by the tissue sample. A procedure to identify both stiffness and damping coefficients of the tissue is then applied to the developed hardware. Particularly, stiffness is calculated solving the static equations of the mechanism in a desired configuration, while the damping coefficient is inferred from the dynamic equations, which are written under the hypothesis that the sample tissue is excited by a variable compression force characterized by a suitable wave form. The whole procedure is implemented by making use of a control system.
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