Soft gallstone-crushing robots
The current treatment for symptomatic gallstones is primarily surgical, where one of the most general surgeries, laparoscopic cholecystectomy, is the excision of the gallbladder to remove gallstones. However, postoperative site infections are a common health risk. As a result, scientists are investigating non-invasive methods to crush gallstones, but to date there are limited reports on such approaches.
Herein, we propose a non-invasive lithotripsy method that uses ferromagnetic, spiny, flexible, and wireless medical robots, that can be taken orally into the human body bio-safely, to achieve efficient crushing of human gallstones. After operating for 30 minutes, a human gallstone of about 1 cm in diameter had been crushed into a pile of powdered gallstone residue by three soft gallstone-crushing robots in a pig gallbladder.
The work highlights that our designed soft robot provides a promising pathway for non-invasive treatment of human gallstones disease, which brings new insights for future advancement of soft medical robots.