Published online Jun 27, 2010. doi: 10.4240/wjgs.v2.i6.217
Revised: March 11, 2010
Accepted: March 18, 2010
Published online: June 27, 2010
Natural orifice translumenal endoscopic surgery (NOTES) is the integration of laparoscopic minimally invasive surgery techniques with endoscopic technology. Despite the advances in NOTES technology, the approach presents several unique instrumentation and technique-specific challenges. Current flexible endoscopy platforms for NOTES have several drawbacks including limited stability, triangulation and dexterity, and lack of adequate visualization, suggesting the need for new and improved instrumentation for this approach. Much of the current focus is on the development of flexible endoscopy platforms that incorporate robotic technology. An alternative approach to access the abdominal viscera for either a laparoscopic or NOTES procedure is the use of small robotic devices that can be implanted in an intracorporeal manner. Multiple, independent, miniature robots can be simultaneously inserted into the abdominal cavity to provide a robotic platform for NOTES surgery. The capabilities of the robots include imaging, retraction, tissue and organ manipulation, and precise maneuverability in the abdominal cavity. Such a platform affords several advantages including enhanced visualization, better surgical dexterity and improved triangulation for NOTES. This review discusses the current status and future perspectives of this novel miniature robotics platform for the NOTES approach. Although these technologies are still in pre-clinical development, a miniature robotics platform provides a unique method for addressing the limitations of minimally invasive surgery, and NOTES in particular.