April 11, 2009 Coronary artery bypass surgery is used to treat angina and coronary artery disease, but the delicate nature of the operation means that it usually requires the heart to be artificially stopped. Scientists at Japan’s Waseda University have changed the game by creating a machine that can perform surgery on a functioning heart by adjusting to the rhythm of its beat.

Robotic surgery allows doctors to operate on patients by controlling a machine that is far more sterile, precise and flexible than the human hand. By calculating the movement of a heart with millimeter accuracy and shifting its instruments accordingly, Waseda University’s robot can operate on a beating heart as if it was frozen.

The Waseda crew’s robot has been operating on pig’s hearts since 2004, with a claimed 95% tracking accuracy. The goal now is to get it up to 98% before it can brought into an operating room.