Each year throughout the U.S., cancer surgeons perform around 1.7 million breast cancer biopsies. Biopsies are known for being time-consuming and are not always accurate, but a 3D-printed robot that's in its final development stage in the Netherlands could revolutionize how they are performed.
Dubbed the Stormram 4, the robot is made entirely from 3D-printed plastic and can thus be used within the metallic chamber of the MRI scanner. While the MRI scan is being taken, the robot can extract the sample tissue with sub-millimeter precision using a single thin needle.
The benefits are numerous. There will be no need for thick needles and multiple injections, as the robot will hit the target coordinates on the first attempt. Medical personnel can follow the needle under nearly real-time imaging guidance. The robot will also cut down the time required for a biopsy, allowing for more productive use of MRI scanner facilities.
The Stormram 4 is considered the world's smallest 3D-printed biopsy robot, and it won an award at the 2017 Surgical Robotic Challenge, which took place at London's Hamlyn Symposium. Other surgical robots are being developed, though. For instance, researchers at the Worcester Polytechnic Institute are working on a robot that could assist with deep brain stimulation for Parkinson's disease as well as with radiation therapy for prostate cancer.
Until the robot receives regulatory approval, though, the danger of breast cancer going undiagnosed is still there, resulting in a worsened medical condition. To determine if this failure can be deemed negligence in a given case, it would have to be established that the medical professional in question failed to exhibit the requisite standard of care. An attorney representing a patient who has been harmed in this manner will endeavor to do so through the opinion testimony of one or more medical experts.