Could the demise of the scalpel be close at hand? Researchers in Europe are developing innovative micro-robotics technology could make surgeries less complicated, invasive, and costly — benefiting surgeons and patients alike.

For example, a team led by Professor Arianna Menciassi of the BioRobotics Institute in Italy developed a single-port laparoscopy bimanual robot that cuts the number of incisions made in abdominal surgery, from 4 to 1. The robot, dubbed "Sprint," is much less bulky than existing systems and fits more easily into the operating room, while also offering surgeons increased visibility of the patient. Sprint is currently being patented and is currently at a prototype stage.

The researchers are also developing a device that is designed to eliminate the need for incisions altogether. Developed for Natural Orifice Transluminal Endoscopic Surgery (NOTES), the device consists of a magnetic platform coupled with miniature robotic arms that can be inserted into the patient through a natural orifice such as the mouth or anus. Though NOTES is still considered an experimental surgical technique, it could offer many advantages to the patient.

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