This $500 Surgical Device Can Do What A $2-Million Robot Can Do


In 1999, a surgical robot which allowed surgeons to perform minimally invasive operations was introduced. As much a sit was efficient, it came with a $2 million price tag making it impossible for smaller hospitals to perform such types of procedures to their patients. This will all change with the new $500 surgical device developed at the University of Michigan.

Compared to the $2million Da Vinci robot, the UM surgical tool is portable, ergonomic, and intuitive. Aside from the difference in size and price tag, both of them has the precision to perform minimally invasive procedures.

Attached to a surgeon's arm, the needle driver follows the surgeon's movement no matter what the action is. If the surgeon's hand goes up so does the tip. If the wrists create a circular motion, so does the tool making it much easier to perform complex tasks, such as suturing the wound and tying the knot.

The new surgical tool called FlexDex was invented by Jim Geiger, a pediatric surgeon at the UM C.S. Mott Children's Hospital and a professor at the UM Medical School, and Shorya Awtar, an associate professor of mechanical engineering at UM.

Geiger and other doctors at the University of Michigan hospital have used the device in a number of thoracic and laparoscopic procedures. It can also be used for several other surgical procedures, such as hysterectomies, hernia procedures, and prostatectomies.

According to Awtar, FlexDex possesses the functionality of robots but with the cost of portable laparoscopic instruments. Its development started as a research project funded by the National Science Foundation.

FlexDex is marketed and sold by the UM startup FlexDex Surgical, which has already shipped the devices across the United States. They plan to expand their product offerings in the coming years allowing the founders and the university to financially benefit from the device.

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