Spine surgical robots are a type of surgical robots that are mainly used to assist in spine surgeries, and their core functions include customising 3D pre-operative protocols, improving the clarity of images of the surgical site, reducing tremor and improving surgical precision, reducing damage to healthy bones and tissues, reducing blood loss, protecting nerves, shortening hospital stays, and speeding up recovery.
The composition of an spine surgical robot can be broadly divided into a control system, a positioning and navigation device, a robotic arm device, and a supporting tool set, which are introduced one by one below.
(1) Spine surgery robot robot control system
This is the core system of spine surgical robots. In addition to the integration of various components, the algorithms involved in the image processing software module, the surgical planning software module, and the robotic arm control module are the core secrets independently researched and developed by each robotics company. The accuracy of image processing, as well as the reasonableness of surgical planning and the efficiency of human-computer interaction can increase the operator’s acceptance of spine surgical robots, and the algorithms of the control module are closely related to the surgeon’s operating feel. This is a system that is difficult to evaluate quantitatively and can only be verified through clinical application of orthopaedic surgical robots.
(2) Spine surgery robot positioning and navigation system
This system forms a three-dimensional model based on the images introduced before the operative spine surgery, unifies the three-dimensional model with the actual position of the patient and the real-time position of the surgical instruments in the space under one coordinate system, and uses the three-dimensional positioning system to collect and display the position of the surgical instruments in the space in real time, and the doctor navigates surgical treatment to the patient by observing the relative positional relationship between the surgical instruments in the three-dimensional model and the diseased part. It mainly includes imaging module, tracking module and display module. Accuracy is the key index of navigation equipment, and the key technology points are stereo positioning system, spatial alignment technology, and multimode image fusion. Among them, spatial alignment technology and multimode image fusion are achieved through software algorithms, while in terms of stereo positioning system, currently used for surgical navigation is mainly optical positioning, there are also some instruments in the study of magnetic navigation technology, while the robotic arm often uses mechanical positioning.
(3) Spine surgery robot robotic arm device
Currently used in spine surgical robots on the robotic arm is mainly divided into two kinds of silk drive and gear machine drive, silk drive robotic arm has the advantage of small size, can achieve a certain degree of mechanical backdriving, robotic arm operation of the stiffness is less, the disadvantage is the easy fatigue of the steel cable drive, it will affect the accuracy, and need to be replaced periodically. Another is the gear motor drive system, the advantage is that it can maintain long-term accuracy, the disadvantage is that the volume is more and the operation of the feeling of stiffness.
(4) Spine surgery robot tool set
The accessories include a sterile cover, fixator, target kit and monitor, which are used to create a sterile zone, stabilise the bone, track anatomical landmarks and monitor movement, respectively.
In summary, the product development of spine surgical robots, on the one hand, need to carry out the software system suitable for clinical operation and application habits, on the other hand, also need to break the technical barriers in the mechanical arm, optical tracking system and other hardware, to achieve the autonomy of the core technology, in order to obtain stronger product competitiveness and more market favour. Take the development of Perlove Medical to see its technology iteration. The company was founded in 2003, based on the development and production of medical X-ray machines, and gradually developed into a one-stop supplier of general radiology medical imaging equipment. With 20 years of technological deep ploughing in the field of medical imaging, Perlove Medical’s self-developed PL300 spine surgical robot was approved for market launch in 2022, which combines a number of core technologies such as the integrated scanning adaptive alignment algorithm during surgery and multi-dimensional mechanical control technology at the end of the robot.