Would you be willing to go under the knife—if a robot is holding it?
According to one study, it might be safer if you do.
A surgery-performing machine called the Smart Tissue Autonomous Robot, or STAR, actually performed better than human surgeons on a recent test at Children’s National Health Center.
“Surgeons tested STAR against manual surgery, laparoscopy, and robot-assisted surgery for porcine intestinal anastomosis, and found that the supervised autonomous surgery offered by the STAR system was superior,” surgeons at the Center wrote.
In simpler terms, the robot and a group of human surgeons took turns sewing up some pig bowels, and the robot did a better job.
STAR didn’t do it all by itself, however. The robot is semi-autonomous, meaning it needed small amounts of human help preparing the thread and watching out for mistakes.
But the most delicate, difficult part of the work was all STAR’s—and that’s impressive, given that it was on soft tissue, which tends to move around.
The potential to remove human error from surgery is good news, given that medical error is now the third leading cause of death in the U.S.
Surgeons at Children's National cautioned that the project is still in development. But given how STAR performed, robots like it may be in the operating room before too long-- and they may be less likely than humans to terminate you.