March 17, 2017
Precise, minimally invasive robotic surgery could improve outcomes for cochlear implant patients.
BOB HIRSHON (host):
Robotic microsurgery. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.
Cochlear implants allow deaf people to hear by electrically stimulating nerves of the inner ear. But the surgery required involves tissues less than a millimeter wide.
STEFAN WEBER (University of Bern):
This electrode when it’s inserted into the very fragile, very small structures of the inner ear potentially creates a bit of damage and trauma. The consistency of hearing preservation could be improved.
That’s University of Bern researcher Stefan Weber. He and his team report in the journal Science Robotics that they’ve pioneered robotic microsurgery for cochlear implantation. Weber says the minimally invasive procedure is more precise than the human version and likens it to an airplane’s autopilot, with surgeons able to step in if needed. He says the first robotic surgeries have now successfully restored hearing to several patients. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.
Story by Susanne Bard