Researchers from Singapore have developed a small robot designed to remove stomach cancer in its early stages. The mini robot resembles a crab, because it incorporates a pincer and a hook to do the job. The robot is mounted on an endoscope which reaches the stomach via the patient's mouth. Next to its size, another advantage of the robot is that it doesn't leave an external scar.

The crab-like robot has a pincer to grab the tissue to be removed, and the hook can cut the tissue and cauterize it to stop the bleeding. The operating surgeon can see what's happening through the little camera in the endoscope and control the robot's movements. These movements are very precise and accurate compared to movements made directly with human hands.

A fun fact is that inventors Lawrence Ho and Louis Phee got the idea for this robot after having a seafood dinner in Singapore with Hong Kong surgeon Sydney Chung, where he noted that crabs are very good at grabbing and cutting maneuvers. The robot has already been used to remove early-stage stomach cancer in as many as five patients in India and Hong Kong. These operations took much less time than conventional open and keyhole surgery, nonetheless, the researchers think it will be another three years before the crab robot will become commercially available.

This post also appears on medGadget, an Atlantic partner site.