Robotic anesthesia: not the realm of science fiction any more

Thomas M Hemmerling, Nora Terrasini
Current Opinion in Anaesthesiology 2012, 25 (6): 736-42

PURPOSE OF REVIEW: Robots are present in surgery, to a much lesser extent in the field of anesthesia. The purpose of this review is to show the latest and most important findings in robotic anesthesia. Moreover, this review argues the importance and utility of robots in anesthesia.

RECENT FINDINGS: Over the years, many closed-loop systems have been developed; they were able to control only one or two of the three components of anesthesia: hypnosis, analgesia, or muscle relaxation. McSleepy controls all three components of anesthesia, from induction to emergence of anesthesia. Telemedical applications have not only led to remote monitoring but even to remotely controlled anesthesia, such as transcontinental anesthesia. A new closed-loop system for sedation, called Sedasys, could revolutionize the field of nonoperating room sedation. 'Manual robots' are used to help and replace anesthesiologists performing anesthesia procedures. Specific robots for intubation and nerve blocks have been developed and tested in humans.

SUMMARY: Robots can improve performance in anesthesia and healthcare. Closed-loop systems are the basis for pharmacological robots. Safe anesthetic care might be delivered through teleanesthesia whenever qualified personnel are not available or need support. Mechanical robots are being developed for anesthesia care.

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