The new technology functions without manual control by surgeons and is equipped with a high-precision navigation system with such a small range of variation that surgery in a very confined space can be performed as a minimally invasive procedure. "Similar to the autopilot, the robot works with a precise navigation system, which is fed with all the necessary information relating to the cochlea into which the cochlear implant is being inserted, and the position of the facial and gustatory nerves," explains Wolfgang Gstöttner from the Department of Ear, Nose and Throat Diseases, who led the cochlear implant operation. "The robot is then started and works without manual control," he adds.
However, the high-tech system cannot yet work entirely without specialists. Before the surgical robot starts, this device produces a CT scan, onto which the specialists draw exactly where the cochlea and the surrounding nerves are located using their own software. Based on this data, a calculation is made as to whether the robot can set a suitable angle for accessing the cochlea without hitting arteries or nerves. Only if the result of this calculation is satisfactory can the robot start with the actual procedure. The surgeon makes the incision behind the ear beforehand, as well as placing four or five screws that the robot needs as fixation points. The implant itself is also placed manually in the cochlea once drilling is completed.
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