Pietro Valdastri is convinced that the clever application of magnetic force can make minimally invasive surgery easier and more effective.
‘In 2007, a team of University of Texas researchers did some basic experiments using magnets in laparoscopic surgery,’ said Valdastri, assistant professor of mechanical engineering and director of Vanderbilt University’s Science and Technology of Robotics in Medicine (STORM) Lab.
‘Although their designs were very simple, mechanically speaking, they made me realize that small surgical devices guided and powered by external magnets have a number of potential advantages over placing tools on the end of a stick, which is the current approach. All that was required is a little sophisticated engineering!’
This realization led Valdastri and his graduate students – particularly Christian Di Natali and Nicol