Robotic surgery is the use of robots in performing surgery. Three major advances aided by surgical robots have been remote surgery, minimally invasive surgery and unmanned surgery. Major potential advantages of robotic surgery are precision and miniaturization. Further advantages are articulation beyond normal manipulation and three-dimensional magnification.
In 1985 a robot, the PUMA 560, was used to place a needle for a brain biopsy using CT guidance. In 1988, the PROBOT, developed at Imperial College London, was used to perform prostatic surgery. The ROBODOC from Integrated Surgical Systems was introduced in 1992 to mill out precise fittings in the femur for hip replacement. Further development of robotic systems was carried out by Intuitive Surgical with the introduction of the da Vinci Surgical System and Computer Motion with the AESOP and the ZEUS robotic surgical system.
The da Vinci Surgical System is comprised of three components: a surgeon’s console, a patient-side robotic cart with 2 arms manipulated by the surgeon, and a high-definition 3D vision system in connection with a camera introduced into the body by a voice-controlled third arm on the robotic cart. Articulating surgical instruments are mounted on the robotic arms which are introduced into the body through cannulas. The surgeon’s hand movements are scaled and filtered to eliminate hand tremor then translated into micro-movements of the proprietary instruments. The da Vinci System is FDA cleared for a variety of surgical procedures including surgery for prostate cancer, hysterectomy and mitral valve repair and used in more than 800 hospitals in the Americas and Europe. The da Vinci System was used in 48,000 procedures in 2006 and sells for about $1.2 million.
- In 1997 a reconnection of the fallopian tubes operation was performed successfully in Cleavland using ZEUS.
- In May 1998, Dr. Friedrich-Wilhelm Mohr using the Da Vinci surgical robot performed the first robotically assisted heart bypass at the Leipzig Heart Centre in Germany.
- In 2001, Prof. Marescaux used the Zeus robot to perform a cholecystectomy on a pig in Strasbourg, France while in New York.
- The first unmanned robotic surgery took place in May 2006 in Italy.
Multiple types of procedures have been performed with either the Zeus or da Vinci robot systems, including bariatric surgery.
Reproductive surgery and ablative surgery including hysterectomy have been performed.
The ROBODOC system was released in 1992 by the Integrated Surgical Systems, Inc.
Surgical robotics has been used in many types of pediatric surgical procedures including: tracheoesophageal fistula repair, cholecystectomy, nissen fundoplication, morgagni hernia repair, kasai portoenterostomy, congenital diaphragmatic hernia repair, and others. On January 17, 2002, surgeons at Children's Hospital of Michigan in Detroit performed the nation's first advanced computer-assisted robot-enhanced surgical procedure at a children's hospital.
The da Vinci robot is commonly used to remove the prostate gland for cancer, repair obstructed kidneys, repair bladder abnormalities and removed diseased kidneys.
Current equipment is expensive to obtain, maintain and operate. If one of the older model non-autonomous robots is being used, surgeons and staff need special training. Data collection of procedures and their outcomes remains limited.
As scientists seek to improve the versatility and utility of robotics in surgery, some are attempting to miniaturize the robots. For example, the University of Nebraska Medical Center has led a multi-campus effort to provide collaborative research on mini-robotics among surgeons, engineers and computer scientists.
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- Minimally Invasive Robotic Association website
- AESOP and Zeus Robotic System
- PathFinder neurosurgical robot
- National Georgaphic, September Article about remote surgery
- Robotics in Urology
- High Performance Network Video in support of Remote Surgery
- NSF Engineering Research Center for Computer-Integrated Surgical Systems and Technology -- Johns Hopkins University, Carnegie Mellon University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
- Robotic doctor with sense of touch
- REPOROBO project
- Canadian robot does better brain surgery, USA Today, April 17, 2007
- neuroArm project at University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada
- Surgical Robot Out of This World
- World's First Image-guided Surgical Robot To Enhance Accuracy And Safety Of Brain Surgery at University of Calgary