R2D2 puts in stellar performance

The results are in from a world-first Oxford University clinical trial that used a robot to operate inside the human eye


Oxford University researchers have reported positive results from a ground-breaking clinical trial that involved using a robot to perform vitreoretinal surgery. 

The initial surgery, performed in September last year, was thought to be the first time a robot has been used to operate inside the human eye. 

A further five patients were operated on by the Robotic Retinal Dissection Device (R2D2) as part of the clinical trial. Results were compared with the outcomes of six vitreoretinal surgeries performed manually and presented at the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology annual conference (7–11 May, Baltimore).

The researchers reported that all surgeries within the clinical trial were performed successfully without complications. 

There were two retinal micro-haemorrhages and one retinal touch among the surgeries completed robotically, compared to five and two respectively in the surgeries completed manually. 

Robotic surgery held potential for the controlled delivery of gene therapy and stem cells in future clinical treatments for retinal disease, the researchers emphasised.

“The extreme precision and stability of a robotic system may facilitate complex retinal and transretinal procedures,” they conclude. 

Image credit: University of Oxford