How Does a Robot Assist a Surgeon in Surgery?

August 17, 2018

Today, robotic technology is being used in increasingly advanced ways to assist human beings. In the medical field, robots have even been introduced to assist in surgical procedures. This, of course, causes many people to imagine futuristic scenes like those of a science-fiction movie — with robots performing surgery on humans unaccompanied. Robots in these fictional scenarios can talk, think, analyze, plan, and perform surgeries without any human control or regulation. In reality, however, the robots used today are very different from those that we often imagine.     

The use of robot-assisted surgery with the assistance of computer technology is being increasingly utilized in hospitals all over the world. One particular system, the Da Vinci robotic system, has mechanical arms that hold a camera transmitting a 3D HD view of the surgical site, and miniature surgical instruments that are made to move like human hands. The surgeon controls the articulated arms and hands of the robot in the desired direction and location just like they would in normal surgery. 

This must only be carried out using the skills and expertise of surgeons who are not only fully-qualified surgeons but also extensively trained in the use of robot-assisted surgery. The use of robot-assisted surgery allows surgeons to perform surgery that is more precise, effective, and safe. 

What Does a Robot-Assisted Surgery Procedure Look Like?  

The steps in a robot-assisted surgery procedure are similar to those in standard surgery. After the surgeon has planned the surgery and anesthesia has been administered to the patient, the surgeon will then make a few tiny incisions to introduce the miniaturized instruments and high-definition camera into the patient’s body and place them in the correct positions. The surgeon then sits at the console and performs the surgery while viewing a high-definition, 3D image of the surgical site. The system transmits the signals from the surgeon’s hands to the robotic arms and tiny surgical instruments operating inside the patient’s body. 
Every movement of the surgeon’s hands is replicated precisely by the robot in real time. Once the surgery is complete, the surgeon will close the small incisions and take care of any final steps ensuring proper completion. 

What are the Benefits of Robot-Assisted Surgery? 

Today, the Da Vinci robotic system can be used to assist in surgeries involving almost all areas of the body, including the prostate, uterus, esophagus, stomach, intestine, liver, pancreas, etc. In the USA, robot-assisted abdominal surgeries for the treatment of obesity and hernias are currently gaining popularity and becoming increasingly widespread as well.   

What are the Advantages of the Da Vinci Robotic Surgical System? 

  • The robotic instruments are able to bend and rotate freely and independently in up to 7 different degrees of motion, making it possible to operate in tight, limited spaces with improved dexterity and range of motion, delicacy, and efficiency, thus minimizing the chance of complications.  
  • The high resolution 3D imaging system allows the surgeon to have an amazingly clear view of the depth and detail of the organs, blood vessels, and nerves of the surgical site, resulting in enhanced precision and safety. 
  • The computer can also make minute adjustments to filter out hand tremors from the signals it receives from the surgeon’s hands, ensuring the robotic surgery is performed smoothly. 
  • Very small incisions and extremely detailed, precise surgery results in minimal blood loss, reduced pain, and faster recovery, which means the patient needs to spend far less time recuperating in hospital. 

By Dr Anusak Yiengpruksawan, Surgical Oncologist, Robotic Surgery Center, Bumrungrad International Hospital 

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