‘Miniature is big’: How Virtual Incision designed the small but mighty MIRA surgical robot — and then shrank it again for space

The Virtual Incision MIRA Surgical System’s design was small to start with — and then came an opportunity to test aboard the International Space Station.

Virtual Incision’s MIRA (Miniaturized In Vivo Robotic Assistant) Surgical System [Photo courtesy of Virtual Incision]

In conversations with Medical Design & Outsourcing, surgical robotics developers often say they try to use as many off-the-shelf components as possible.

That wasn’t possible for the MIRA (Miniaturized In Vivo Robotic Assistant) Surgical System, Virtual Incision co-founder and Chief Technology Officer Shane Farritor said.

“Everything in our device is quite custom … from scratch, bespoke,” he said in an interview. “… Our robot’s different than everyone else, because it’s miniature, and we think miniature is big.”

Virtual Incision’s MIRA won FDA de novo class…

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New kidney stone treatment moves and breaks them with minimal pain

A new kidney stone treatment uses ultrasound to move and break up renal calculi without sedation. [Photo courtesy of University of Washington]

A new kidney stone treatment uses ultrasound to reposition and break up renal calculi in patients with minimal pain, no surgery and no anesthesia.

University of Washington researchers are using ultrasound propulsion to move kidney stones for easier passage from the kidney through the ureter to the bladder. They also have burst wave lithotripsy to break them into smaller pieces.

Doctors often advise kidney stone patients to let the stones pass naturally, a process that can mean weeks of intermittent, intense pain.

Even then, some stones are too large to pass. Health providers then turn to extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy to break them up. It’s a painful procedure that requires sedation and can cause damage to the kidney.

It’s also pos…

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NASA grant will see Virtual Incision’s surgical robot go to space

[Image from Virtual Incision]Virtual Incision announced today that its MIRA platform will be used in a technology demonstration aboard the International Space Station (ISS).

Lincoln, Nebraska-based Virtual Incision received a grant from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to use the miniaturized robotic-associated surgery (RAS) platform on the 2024 technology demonstration mission.

MIRA includes a small, self-contained surgical device inserted through a single midline umbilical incision in the patient’s abdomen, allowing for complex, multi-quadrant abdominal surgeries utilizing existing minimally invasive tools and techniques that are familiar to surgeons.

The platform received IDE approval in October 2020, followed by approval for an IDE supplement in April. In November 2021, Virtual Incision completed a $46 million Series C financing round to support the robotic surgery platform.

It weighs approximately 2 pounds and fits within…

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NASA, Fitbit gain EUAs for COVID-19 devices

The FDA granted emergency use authorization (EUA) for emergency COVID-19 ventilator devices developed by Nasa and Fitbit (NYSE:FIT).

According to the FDA’s ongoing list of devices granted EUAs, both devices were authorized on June 1. NASA’s VITAL (ventilator intervention technology accessible locally) compressor and the Fitbit Flow are the latest of a few ventilator alternatives to garner EUA status.

NASA’s VITAL compressor is designed to offer continuous ventilatory support for adult patients requiring ventilation when no standard ventilators are available. It is a restricted device intended for use by a qualified healthcare provider.

The VITAL compressor is the second NASA ventilator to earn EUA, after the original VITAL device obtained authorization last month. NASA touts VITAL as capable of being built faster and maintained more easily than a traditional ventilator. The device includes fewer parts than other ventilators, many of whi…

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