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The possibilities of the HeartLander call apparatus sound something like science fiction, but have already proven successful in trials on pigs.

It barely measures two centimeters and moves like a caterpillar. It operates through a small robot inserted into the chest through a small incision and can move on the heart surface to apply treatments or insert devices such as pacemakers.

American scientists of the University of Carnegie Mellon de Pittsburgh, USA, worked on this prototype in the hope that they could find an end to open heart operations, which require general anaesthesia and the removal of ribs, resulting in long and complicated recoveries.

If the investigation is successful, the robot could conduct cardiac operations while the heart continues beating, with no need for invasive surgery and using simply local anaesthestic.