Origami Inspires Surgery without Stitches
It started with mechanical engineers who applied the principles of origami to make tools smaller and more compact for spaceflight. Now that knowledge is being employed to create tiny, robotic surgical instruments – with the goal being surgical incisions so small they can heal on their own, without sutures or stitches.
At the forefront is Brigham Young University (BYU) in Provo, UT. Researchers there have already licensed some of their origami-inspired technology to Intuitive Surgical, makers of the da Vinci surgical robot that enables surgeons to carry out operations like prostate removal through a few, small incisions.
It’s widely believed that the surgical instrument industry has reached its limit regarding size, and it cannot go smaller with traditional designs.
The BYU team is working on a concept called the "D-Core," in which the instrument starts out as a flat shape that can be inserted through a small incision, then expands to become two rounded surfaces that roll on each other.
These origami-inspired instruments may well be the next step in surgical advancement, which could one day allow for a whole new range of surgeries to be performed – for instance, manipulating objects as small as nerves.