Steps in the development of a robotic scrub nurse
This paper describes how a robotic scrub nurse has been developed to assist human scrub nurses (also called delivery scrub nurses) during surgical interventions. The developed system in this work (nicknamed Quirubot) is equipped with a speech recognition module to recognize the requested surgical instrument; Quirubot locates this element on a storage tray using computer vision and pattern recognition and picks the element from the tray placing it on an interchange tray where the human scrub nurse can finally use this tool. Moreover, to implement the manipulation of surgical instruments, an electromagnetic gripper has been adapted to pick and place them. Fanuc LR Mate 200iB robot has been electrically modified to add a new connector devoted to control the electromagnetic gripper. Nowadays Quirubot can identify up to 27 surgical instruments and more than 82 spoken instructions; the advantages of the system have been demonstrated using a group of experienced and intermediate skilled scrub nurses in a open abdominal aortic aneurysm surgery simulation (experiments performed in a robotics lab and an operating room). After this study, the use of a robotic scrub nurse is justified in an nBio operating room to improve the system up to obtaining a more robust version to be used at the Hospital Universitario de Sant Joan d’Alacant.