Medical millirobots could change less-invasive surgeries

29 May 2015

A new paper, presented at the International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), explains how tiny robots could be used to improve less-invasive medical procedures.

According to the authors of 'Toward Tissue Penetration by MRI-powered Millirobots Using a Self-Assembled Gauss Gun', the robots would be driven by magnetic potential energy from magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanners.

Dr Aaron Becker, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Houston, said the potential technology could be used to treat hydrocephalus and other conditions. This would mean surgeons would not need to conduct current treatments that require cutting through the skull to implant pressure-relieving shunts.

The paper describes a technique that can penetrate tissue by generating large impulsive forces. This would be achieved by sending tiny manoeuvrable robotic components to a specific location and then converting magnetic potential energy into enough kinetic energy to cut through tissue.

Dr Becker, along with colleagues, used an MRI scanner to map routes on high-quality brain images, using the scanner's magnetic fields to push the small robots. 

"Our noninvasive approach would eventually require simply a hypodermic needle or lumbar puncture to introduce the components into the spinal canal, and the components could be steered out of the body afterwards," Dr Becker said.

Posted by Edward Bartel

Health News is provided by Adfero in collaboration with Spire Healthcare. Please note that all copy above is ©Adfero Ltd. and does not reflect views or opinions of Spire Healthcare unless explicitly stated. Additional comments on the page from individual Spire consultants do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of other consultants or Spire Healthcare.


Find a treatment, test or scan available at:


Find a consultant

Use one or more of the options below to search for a consultant and link through to view their Spire profile.


Let us help you

fill out this form and we will get back to you:

Please select a hospital

We can call you

Please enter your details below and we will call you back.

What is the aim of your enquiry?

Please select a hospital

If we are unable to reach you by phone, please include your email address so that we can get in touch...


General Surgery

© Spire Healthcare Group plc (2016)