Malaga University develops first Spanish surgical robot

14 July 2009

Laparoscopic surgery has been performed for the first time in Malaga in a routine operation using a robotic assistant in the Hospital Universitario Virgen de la Victoria. The robot was developed by the University of Malaga and is manufactured by Spanish company SENER.

Four years ago SENER became interested in the ongoing research by the Medical Robotics Group of the University of Malaga. They were developing a robot-assistant prototype designed especially for minimally invasive surgery.

The surgical robot
The surgical robot

This robot was to be voice controlled and able to move the endoscope with the total precision required in these types of procedures. In 2004 this prototype was first put to the test in surgical procedures performed on human patients, and its benefits were quickly verified: freeing the surgeon of the habitual fatigue caused by the deep concentration need in such procedures, and consequently reducing the amount of time of the operation. This laparoscopic robot is the very first to have been exclusively developed by Spanish scientists.

Once the company SENER showed their interest it didn’t take long before the robot was patented, and its novel concept was endorsed by the Spanish Office of Patents & Trademarks and the European Patent Office. The company says that there is no other patent similar to this system that has the adroitness to control the robot’s movements.

Since UMA’s robot has been patented in Spain, patent rights have been extended to the EU, The United States and Japan, granting those licence rights exclusively to SENER.

The company has industrialized the prototype turned it into a commercial product. This has been a complex task, in which the researchers from the Medical Robotics Group at the University of Malaga have also been involved by giving the company that personal in-depth knowledge that can not be acquired by the patent alone.

This has all resulted in a successful outcome where all money that is invested in research is given back to society, in the form of this entirely designed and manufactured Spanish, first series, product being used in the Hospital Universitario Virgen de la Victoria in Malaga.

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