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"[Science fiction is] nightmares and visions, always outlined by the barely possible."
- Gregory Benford

Surgical Homeostatic Unit  
  An autonomous surgical robot, able to drill into the body and perform surgery.  

Surgical 'robots' are just now under serious development; no fully autonomous robots are available, as yet - I think.

From his case Eric lifted a small surgical homeostatic unit; it would suffice - he hoped - for the delicate operation. Drilling its own path, and closing the passage behind it, the tool would penetrate the dermal layer and then the omentum until it reached the renal stricture, whereupon, if it was behaving properly, it would begin construction of a plastic bypass for the arterial section; this would be safer, at the moment, than attempting to remove the ring.

Placing the homeostatic surgical tool against Molinari's lower right side, Eric activated it; the device, the size of a shot glass, at once flung itself into activity, delivering first a strong local anesthetic and then beginning its task of cutting its way to the renal artery and the kidney.

The only sound in the room now was the whirring caused by the action of the tool; everyone, including Minister Freneksy, watched it disappear from sight, burrowing into Molinary's heavy, motionless body.

From Now Wait For Last Year, by Philip K. Dick.
Published by Doubleday in 1966
Additional resources -

Dick also wrote about the idea of robotic surgical tools in an earlier story; see the article on the robot surgeon-hand in his 1955 short story War Veteran.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Now Wait For Last Year
  More Ideas and Technology by Philip K. Dick
  Tech news articles related to Now Wait For Last Year
  Tech news articles related to works by Philip K. Dick

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