The robotic ENT microsurgery system: A novel robotic platform for microvascular surgery

Allen L Feng, Christopher R Razavi, Pranav Lakshminarayanan, Zaid Ashai, Kevin Olds, Marcin Balicki, Zhen Gooi, Andrew T Day, Russell H Taylor, Jeremy D Richmon
Laryngoscope 2017, 127 (11): 2495-2500

OBJECTIVE: Assess the feasibility of a novel robotic platform for use in microvascular surgery.

STUDY DESIGN: Prospective feasibility study.

SETTING: Robotics laboratory.

METHODS: The Robotic ENT (Ear, Nose, and Throat) Microsurgery System (REMS) (Galen Robotics, Inc., Sunnyvale, CA) is a robotic arm that stabilizes a surgeon's instrument, allowing precise, tremor-free movement. Six microvascular naïve medical students and one microvascular expert performed microvascular anastomosis of a chicken ischiatic artery, with and without the REMS. Trials were blindly graded by seven microvascular surgeons using a microvascular tremor scale (MTS) based on instrument tip movement as a function of vessel width. Time to completion (TTC) was measured, and an exit survey assessed participants' experience. The interrater reliability of the MTS was calculated.

RESULTS: For microvascular-naïve participants, the mean MTS score for REMS-assisted trials was 0.72 (95% confidence interval [CI] 0.64-1.07) and 2.40 (95% CI 2.12-2.69) for freehand (P < 0.001). The mean TTC was 1,265 seconds for REMS-assisted trials and 1,320 seconds for freehand (P > 0.05). For the microvascular expert, the mean REMS-assisted MTS score was 0.71 (95% CI 0.15-1.27) and 0.86 (95% CI 0.35-1.37) for freehand (P > 0.05). TTC was 353 seconds for the REMS-assisted trial and 299 seconds for freehand. All participants thought the REMS was more accurate and improved instrument handling and stability. The intraclass correlation coefficient for MTS ratings was 0.914 (95% CI 0.823-0.968) for consistency and 0.901 (95% CI 0.795-0.963) for absolute value.

CONCLUSION: The REMS is a feasible adjunct for microvascular surgery and a potential teaching tool capable of reducing tremor in novice users. Furthermore, the MTS is a feasible grading system for assessing microvascular tremor.

LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: NA. Laryngoscope, 127:2495-2500, 2017.

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