Minimally invasive surgery is relatively common. Many procedures are done laparoscopically, with only a few small slits in the body required. On the horizon now is micro-invasive surgery – internal surgeries accomplished without having to disturb the dermis at all.
One experimental approach being studied is using the body’s natural orifices through which to introduce surgical tools to the surgical site. Another approach involves using tiny robotic or magnetically guided machines that can move through veins and arteries. Drexel University has made some interesting advances in technology that could do this.
Their method involves applying a rotating magnetic field to microscopic robots built from magnetic beads. The magnetic field causes chains of beads to rotate and “swim” through the blood stream. By controlling the field, the chains can also be split apart and recoupled. The researchers at Drexel envision that this technology can be developed to deliver drugs to precise areas in the body and, initially, to perform surgery on blocked arteries.
I have written on previous occasions about how surgery is headed towards becoming non-invasive (or more accurately, micro-invasive). Another mile marker has been passed along that road. Look for the speed of advancement to increase.