Virtual Incision surgical robot in space offers potential for remote surgery on Earth

The challenge: Many robotic surgery platforms today are too large for operating rooms with their mainframe designs, Farritor noted. This is why only 1 in 10 operating systems in the United States have access to robot-assisted surgery, by Virtual incision.

“Mainframes require a dedicated operating room, extensive setup, and specialized staff training,” Farritor said. “MIRA aims to make robot-assisted surgery more accessible to surgeons and patients through its miniaturized design that aims to simplify surgery and setup.”

The big takeaway: The size and price of current robotic surgery systems may impede implementation.

Larger systems like Intuitive surgery da Vinci were among the first to hit the market, but the ISS proof-of-concept could show how a compact robot can bridge the distances between space and distant regions of Earth.

“Robot-assisted surgery on Earth is already a reality, but logistical inefficiencies in current systems prevent it from being accessible in any operating room on the planet,” Farritor said. “That’s where MIRA fits in. Our hope is that MIRA will be cleared for use in US operating rooms before it heads into space.”

And after? Virtual Incision will submit the surgical robot to the FDA by the end of 2022, with potential commercial availability to follow.

Go further: Learn more about robotics in healthcare in our Smart hospitals report. This article originally appeared in Insider Intelligence’s Digital Health Briefing, a daily roundup of top stories reshaping the healthcare industry. Subscribe to get more impactful takeaways delivered to your inbox daily.

Christine E. Phillips