This is some really cool technology, and it's becoming more and more practical.
You might have seen this video making its way around the Internet over the past few days, featuring a grape being sewn back together by some tiny surgical instruments.
While the video isn't exactly new (it was first posted in September 2014), it's gotten some attention recently. And for good reason, too. It's a really impressive look at technology in the field of medicine.
The particular robot shown in the video is a da Vinci Single-Site Wristed Needle Driver.
It's a tool so delicate and precise that not only can it stitch a grape back together, but it can also fold origami cranes smaller than a dime. To put that in perspective, think about folding a normal origami crane and then imagine doing it with a piece of paper the size of large confetti.
Basically, the da Vinci robot is capable of doing delicate work that's too small for human hands.
But let's talk about what really matters: What could this technology mean for patients?
Because let's face it — most of us won't find ourselves in a grape-peeling accident that requires emergency stitching. ( On a side note, if a grape dies in a tragic peeling accident, does it become a raisin, wine, or just a mangled grape?)
According to da Vinci, these tiny tools have been used in more than 1.5 million procedures since 2000.
It means that surgery will (hopefully) continue to get less and less invasive over time.
Recently, "minimally invasive" endoscopic surgeries have become increasingly common. These are procedures where (generally speaking) a surgeon goes in through one or several small incisions as opposed to large ones.
Some examples of these surgeries include gallbladder removals, hysterectomies, and appendectomies, which used to require larger cuts but can now be done using smaller, more precise tools. These types of procedures can also be used to treat some forms of cancer.
Improved methods mean faster recovery.
Last year, I underwent a surgery that for a long time involved really invasive work and a very lengthy recovery time. Mine, however, was an endoscopic procedure. This resulted in smaller scars, shorter recovery, and, for me, a better experience. (Thanks, technology!)
With many surgical procedures, recovery has more to do with healing the (necessary) damage that surgery itself causes. As technology improves, so will recovery. With every advance in the medical field, we should hope that risks of infection and complications diminish.
Hopefully, there will come a day where the sort of delicate precision this grape enjoys is the standard surgical treatment all humans can access.
The whole thing is really cool. You can check out the full demo here: