On June 29, 2021, The Annals of Internal Medicine published a systemic review of robot-assisted abdominopelvic surgery to “assess the quality of evidence and outcomes of robot-assisted surgery compared with laparoscopy and open surgery in adults.”
The conclusion of the review found “no clear advantage (in laparoscopy and open surgery in adults) with existing robotic platforms…”
However, the study also concludes that “with refinement, competition, and cost reduction, future versions (of robotic platforms) have the potential to improve clinical outcomes without the existing disadvantages.”
What Are Some of the Headwinds Facing Robotic Surgery?
Many of the current robotic surgery technologies are cumbersome and immobile – oftentimes, consisting of larger structures that are permanently installed in private hospitals. The large size and structural permanence of such robotic platforms make them incapable of providing mobile surgical services, particularly to rural locations where such movable technology could be hugely beneficial to populations of patients that are far from readily-available medical and surgical access.
Additionally, robotic-assisted surgery continues to be an inordinately expensive technology. According to researchers from the University of Texas, the initial cost of the most prevalent robotic platform is $1.5 million, which does not account for costs of upkeep or personnel training. Furthermore, some private health insurance companies will not cover the additional cost of surgery involving a robotic apparatus, thus increasing the financial burden for patients.
Some research has also shown a myriad of “neutral” outcomes from robotic-assisted surgery when compared to traditional laparoscopic or open surgeries. From the recent Annals of Internal Medicine review: “The majority of studies showed no difference in intraoperative complications, conversion rates, and long-term outcomes.”
How Is MIRA Poised to Transform Minimally Invasive Surgery (MIS)?
The MIRA platform is designed to usher in a new era of Minimally Invasive Surgery with a first-of-its-kind miniaturized surgical robotic support device, focusing first on colon resection and with other procedure specific designs to follow.
Straightaway, MIRA’s compact size, single-cable design, latency free video feedback, and lack of surgical draping should expand surgical access to rural settings. Weighing only two pounds, MIRA can be moved and set up easily, eliminating the need for dedicated hospital space or infrastructure. This mobile flexibility may also provide future advantages in military field hospitals and other difficult to access medical settings.
As an accessible option for laparoscopy, MIRA may also reduce the number of surgical incisions by up to 50%, which can make laparoscopic procedures more cost-effective to hospitals, insurance companies, and most importantly, to patients.
MIRA is designed to be simple to implement and use, small to transport and prepare, and smart in functionality. It has been tailored to be fully autonomous while performing multi-quadrant surgery—providing a surgeon with 360-degree control of the positioning of the robot for the operation as well as providing complete control of the camera—all from the one console.
Ultimately, MIRA aims to be the future of robotic platforms that will provide the refinement, competition, and cost reduction needed to improve clinical outcomes of robotic-assisted surgery without the existing disadvantages.