Would You Trust a Robot to Perform Surgery on You?

It may be the safest option!

When most people think of robotics, they remember television movies where robots are either very friendly or extremely dangerous.  Could you imagine having open heart surgery and being able to go home seven to ten days later?   How many of us would have ever believed that one day robotics would be used to save lives.  Well welcome to medical science at its best. Allow me to introduce Da Vinci robotic surgery.

What Is Da Vinci Robot Assisted Surgery?

Da Vinci Surgical RobotCredit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robotic_surgeryDa Vinci Robot Assisted Surgery is a new medical advancement where robots and computers are used in the assistance of surgeries.  Some of the newest technological procedures using robotics are cardiac surgery and spine surgery.  Da Vinci robotic surgery was invented to assist surgeons and patients with precise, less invasive medical procedures.  Using these devices have helped to cause less trauma to the patients and require less training for the surgeon to be able to utilize the robotics equipment in order to successfully perform the surgical procedure.  The computer assisted surgeries have had a great impact on the medical world.  They allow a doctor to perform the procedure needed from almost any location in the world.  The Cyberknife is another great advancement in robotics surgery; this robotic radio surgery technology has been used to treat tumors using beams of radiation at high doses with extreme accuracy.  This means no cutting is involved.  For those that previously had inoperable tumors, they now have an option.

Problems with Da Vinci Robotic Surgery

Whenever new advancements are made there are sure to be some problem areas.  According to several articles reviewed at the time of this writing; the biggest problem with Da Vinci robot assisted surgery seems to be education and cost.  Surgeons say that a new doctor learning to use the surgery robot needs over 15 surgical procedures under his or her belt before they are considered experts with the technology.  During the training phase; surgeries have lasted considerably longer than a regular surgery.    This can cause headaches for the hospital with staffing and operating room availability.  One robot can cost over a  million dollars and the eagerness of some surgeons to use to new procedures before they have enough knowledge to properly control the robotics have  caused patients to be seriously injured as seen at a new hospital in New Hampshire.  The Wall Street Journal reported that at Wentworth-Douglas hospital, several patients had been injured during robotics surgery using the Da Vinci surgical robot, invented by the Intuitive Surgical Company.  One patient was said to have been injured so severely that he needed four additional surgeries to fix the damage done.  This doesn’t show that the robot itself is the cause; rather the surgeons must have more education.  Critics also believe that there is not enough information available to understand if robotics causes less complications over time than regular surgical procedures do.

Da Vinci Robotic Surgeries and Patient Benefits

Since 2000, numerous surgeries have been completed using robots.  Colleges and universities across the country have made great strides in surgical procedures such as a pancreatic surgery, knee replacement surgery, and liver donor transplantation.  This has made robotics surgery at times the favored choice of patients.  When looking at the advantages for their surgeries; they are positively influenced by the knowledge that the robotics will provide smaller incisions, less blood loss, and faster healing times. 

Good Candidates For The Surgery

Who is a good candidate for Da Vinci robotics surgery?  Whether or not you are a good candidate depends on the type of surgery needed.  For example, if you are having prostate surgery; you would not be a good candidate if you are morbidly obese, have had in-depth abdominal surgeries, or radiation.  For some types of surgeries any person being referred is a viable candidate. 

The Use of Da Vinci Surgical Robots Now and in the Future

Robotics surgery has changed the abilities of some of our greatest surgeons to do their work.  It has supplied them with the technology to perform surgery, any time, any place, anywhere.  As continued advances are made including miniature robotics; the sky is the limit.  So remember, the next time you are in need of surgery that there may be some options that you never dreamed possible by way of computer assisted and robot enhanced procedures.  Through continuous devotion to medical science we can look for more breakthroughs on the horizon.  Even as this piece is being written robotics is moving on to the next level.  There will come a day when complete surgeries performed by Da Vinci surgical robots could be the rule and not the exception.  This will give our doctors and other healthcare professionals a much needed break so that they can provide better one on one care with patients.  

Di Vinci Robotic Surgery Demonstration