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Robotic Snake Slithers in for Surgery Through a Hole in Your Chest

cardio armHaving a snake burrow its way through your chest doesn't sound like a terribly enjoyable experience, but that's exactly what the Cardio Arm is designed to do to patients undergoing heart surgery.

Created by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University, the Cardio Arm is a snake-like robot capable of entering a patient's chest through a three-quarter inch incision in the solar plexus. The snake and all of its 102 joints can be controlled with a joystick, while a camera attached to its head allows a surgeon to see where it's headed.

The device was deployed for the first time last February, when doctors in the Czech Republic used it to complete a diagnostic heart-mapping procedure. And, according to roboticist Howie Choset, the 'bot has already paid dividends. "Instead of cracking open a person's chest," Choset told Discover, "we can do a surgery and send patients home the next day." Choset is now planning on applying the Cardio Arm to other surgeries, and perhaps even to archaeological explorations. "We're hoping to use a remote-controlled robot to go through small caves in Egypt," he explained, "and find remains of ancient Egyptian tombs."

Tags: biotech, cardio, CardioArm, doctor, health, heart, medicine, Robots, science, snake, surgery, top