May 8, 2007 - Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University have recently developed the HeartLander, a 20-millimeter long mini-robot that may be inserted using laparoscopic surgery, without disturbing the ribcage or deflating the left lung to access the heart.
The HeartLander, which has yet to be tested on humans, is controlled by the surgeon via a joystick allowing manipulation of the robot along the surface of the heart, at up to 18 centimeters per minute by moving its two body segments back and forth relative to one another. The robot’s movements can be tracked visually with a monitor using either X-ray video or a magnetic tracker.
“HeartLander can reach all parts of the heart's surface,” said the HeartLander’s chief developer robotics expert Dr. Cameron Riviere. “And because it is stationary relative to the heart's surface, there is no need to interfere with the organ's movement. Entering the body from a single small incision could even allow some heart procedures to be performed without a general anesthetic.”