In minimally invasive orthopedic operations, a surgeon's ability to view and access a surgery site is reduced because of the small incision size. This increase in complexity can have a negative effect on the accuracy of the operation. One solution would be the use of autonomous robots for enhancing the precision of the operation. But this can mean leaving too much control of the operation to a robot.
An ideal compromise would be cooperation between the surgeon and the robot. In this invention by Mako Surgical (US Patent No: US 8010180 B2), the robot provides tactile guidance to the surgeon during orthopedic procedures, hence enhancing the surgeon's skill in a cooperative manner.
The robot is directly controlled by the surgeon during the operation. It can apply an increasing degree of resistance to resist movement as the cutting tool approaches a boundary of the operation region. In this way, the robot would guide the surgeon in preparing the bone by maintaining the cutting tool within a region of constraint.