For most of us, when we think of robots conducting traditionally human tasks, our familiarity is with science fiction or articles regarding potential uprisings. But the future is now. Robots are already commonplace in a variety of industries, either making our jobs easier or performing acts we ourselves simply cannot do.
We aren’t talking about in the construction of vehicles or in faraway factories, either. Robots are revolutionising the hospitality industry, courier services, and are now even present in our hospitals.
In this blog, Team Med explore Robotic Surgery, where it came from, and why it’s beneficial.
The Birth of the Bots
It was all the way back in 1985, with the PUMA 560 robotic surgical arm, that the first documented use of a robot-assisted surgery occurred. It was applied in a neurosurgical biopsy, categorised as a non-laparoscopic surgery. Even then, it was remarked on due to the greater precision achieved, leading to a resounding success, especially in the future for minimally invasive surgeries, such as laparoscopies, that include the use of malleable fibre optic cameras. Positive results followed, for example, when in 1987, the first robot-assisted laparoscopic procedure (a cholecystectomy) took place.
Introduction of the da Vinci Surgical System
In 2000, a revolutionarily new robotic surgery system was approved for use in general laparoscopic surgery by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) – the da Vinci Surgical System. Never before had the FDA approved an all-encompassing system of surgical instruments and camera/scopic utensils, as before, robot-assisted surgeries relied on endoscopes and assistants to perform surgery.
Features of the da Vinci Surgical System
The da Vinci Surgical System contains a three-dimensional magnification screen, which provides the surgeon with the ability to observe the operating area with greater scale, definition and clarity. The miniaturised operating arms, measuring at just one centimetre in diameter, does away with the need to leverage the sides of incision walls, as was common place with older models, like the PUMA 560. Fortunately, this lessens contact between exposed interior tissue and the device, which, by extension, lessens the chances of infection. The operating arms also come with a feature known as the ‘Endo-Wrist’, which is designed to replicate the subtle and refined movements of the skilled surgeon at its controls. It is because of these advancements that the da Vinci Surgical System has been adopted by hospitals across the world, to be used in procedures such as laparoscopic surgeries, urological surgeries, and Thoracoscopically-assisted cardiotomy procedures.
How Robot-Assisted Surgery Works
Surgery preparation will occur like most others. It is only once inside the operating theatre that the stark changes start to happen. Instead of being stationed right beside the patient, the surgeon will position themselves by a console located nearby, controlling the da Vinci Surgical System’s four robotic arms – three for performing the procedure, and the fourth being a camera to relay footage back to the surgeon’s 3-D, magnified view. These instruments mimic every precise command sent through the master controls, with adjustable three-to-one scales on the arms’ tips, in relation to one inch for every three inches of movement by the surgeon.
Why Opt for Robotic Surgery?
Robot-assisted surgery has a multitude of advantages, such as:
- Fewer complications due to human error
- Less chance of surgical site infection
- Less pain and loss of blood
- Faster recovery
- Smaller scarring
The risks involved, however, aren’t solely attributed to the robotic element of the procedure. They are simply the same as those posed with any surgery.