Microsurgery of the retina would be dramatically improved by instruments that offer supra-human precision. Here, we report the results of a first-in-human study of remotely controlled robot-assisted retinal surgery performed through a telemanipulation device. Specifically, 12 patients requiring dissection of the epiretinal or inner limiting membrane over the macula were randomly assigned to either undergo robot-assisted-surgery or manual surgery, under general anaesthesia. We evaluated surgical success, duration of surgery and amount of retinal microtrauma as a proxy for safety. Surgical outcomes were equally successful in the robotic-surgery and manual-surgery groups. Differences in the amount of retinal microtrauma between the two groups were statistically insignificant, yet dissection took longer with robotic surgery (median time, 4 min 5 s) than with manual surgery (1 min 20 s). We also show the feasibility of using the robot to inject recombinant tissue plasminogen activator under the retina to displace sight-threatening haemorrhage in three patients under local anaesthesia. A safe and viable robotic system for intraocular surgery would enable precise and minimally traumatic delivery of gene therapy or cell therapy to the retina.
Nat Biomed Eng
649 - 656
Robotic, intraocular, retina, surgery, telemanipulation