robotic hand

Robotic tools push forward healthcare boundaries

UWE Bristol researchers in the Bristol Robotics Laboratory (BRL) are pioneering a new generation of robotic tools and devices that will improve minimally invasive medical procedures and move forward the boundaries in healthcare technologies.

This is a multi-million pound joint venture between UWE Bristol and the University of Bristol. Dr Sanja Dogramadzi of BRL says “Smart robotic tools have the potential to improve surgery in many areas including orthopaedic, abdominal and cardiovascular surgery. By using minimally invasive access to organs and tissues, robotic tools can help to reduce trauma, speed up recovery and minimise costs.”

Her innovative research explores the use of robotic technologies to repair complex joint fractures. Some 50,000 cases of lower leg fracture, including complex joint fractures, occur every year in England alone. Open-joint surgery is commonly performed to treat these fractures despite an increased risk of infections and tissue failures after surgery.

“An alternative treatment”, explains Sanja, “is to perform closed-joint reduction where joint fragments are manipulated and fixated using small robotic tools with minimal invasion, and externally fixated thin wires to stabilise the repositioned joint fragments.”

In collaboration with leading orthopaedic surgeons and industrial collaborators, BRL is developing robotic surgical systems capable of performing complex minimally invasive surgeries semi-automatically under the supervision of surgeons.

Sanja’s research at UWE Bristol was kick-started by an Early Career Researcher award followed by securing funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and the European Commission. Her collaborators include the Bristol Royal Infirmary, software companies and universities across Europe.

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