Bioengineers at Duke University have developed a surgical robot that can autonomously locate tiny pieces of metal, like the shrapnel resulting from grenades, mines or IEDs, and guide a needle to its exact location in a patient's body. The system uses an electromagnet to induce micro-vibrations in a metallic fragment, which can then be detected using a novel 3D ultrasound technology. With the object's exact coordinates established the system can automatically guide a tiny needle to its location to extract it. The researchers hope that their proof-of-concept will be taken up by a military medical program. They also expect that their work will find further use in other medical procedures, such as placing and removing radioactive "seeds" used in the treatment of prostate and other cancers.
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