Robotic Surgery - Science Fictions becoming Reality

If you have seen robots performing surgery in Hollywood Science Fiction movies and think that they are something impossible then you are wrong. Robotic Surgery is becoming a reality. Day by day new technology is being developed and these robots are becoming more advanced. However still these robots need to be controlled by an expert surgeon but they can perform surgery with more precision and accuracy without getting tired.

Benefits of Robotic Surgery

  • Minimal Invasion: Robotic Surgery need minimal invasion, which means minimum size cut on the body. Its possible because robotic hands are designed in a way to operate through minimal invasion, while if a surgeon performs that task then the cut size should be sufficient enough to have space for surgeon's hand.
  • More Accuracy: Robotic hands can work with more accuracy as they won't move in any wrong way unless they are told to. They can measure each move with accurate precision. Robotic hands won't shake in any condition.
  • Minimum Recovery Time: As a result of minimal invasion and more accuracy the recovery time of the patients is reduced a lot.
  • Lesser blood loss: Due to minimum invasion the loss of blood is also reduced. 
  • Remote Surgery: This method allows a specialist surgeon sitting in any country of the world to perform surgery in any hospital of the world with the help of robotic arms that work with the help of tele-manipulators.

Types of Robots used for Surgery

  • Just like Surgeons have their specialization, there are different robots for different surgeries. For example a robot to operate an eye or brain should be more precise and accurate than any other surgical robot. Robotic surgeries are going on from past several years but first eye surgery using a robot is done recently on 9th Sep 2016. The robot used in that operation can make accurate movements to 100th part of a millimeter. Even the instruments in that robot are of very minute size compared to other surgical robots.
  • Robotic surgery is also used in organ transplant. Kidney transplant using a robot were started around a decade ago, and it emerged as one of the most successful robotic surgeries.
  • German KUKA KR 240 is a Robot to perform radio surgery with high accuracy. It can treat tumors with high energy radiation rays. In this procedure the patient don't need to be moved, but the robotic arm itself moves without disturbing the patient and triggers the rays on the correct point with high accuracy.
  • Some robots are also designed keeping the children in mind, when the size of body is smaller and smaller incisions are necessary for faster recovery. First pediatric robotic surgery was performed at Children's Hospital of Michigan in 2002.
  • NeuroMate was the first commercially available Neurosurgical Robot and it performed more than 8000 brain surgeries between 1997 to 2009. Now its newer version NeuroArm is working successfully.
  • Robot assisted Endoscopic surgery is one of the most famous surgeries where heart surgery is done through small incision in blood vessels.

History of Robotic Surgery

  • PUMA 560 was a robotic arm used in 1985.
  • PROBOT was developed in 1988 at Imperial College London and used for prostatic surgery.
  • ROBODOC was developed in 1992 and used for human Total Hip Arthroplasty (THA).
  • IGOS was used in 1997 for total knee replacement surgery.
  • The da Vinci Surgical System is a robot that can do cutting and sewing in guidance of a surgeon with its robotic arms. During year 2000 and 2001 FDA approved the usage of this robot in various types of surgical procedures. It can produce a 3D image of the object and has 3 or 4 arms to assist in operation and handling tools. Two of its hands act as hands of surgeon, who sits in surgeon console to operate the patient.

  • By 2012, 1840 da Vinci Surgical System were installed in 1450 different hospitals worldwide.

Nanotechnology has assisted a lot in developing these surgical robots. Nanotechnology is itself a very costly thing. These surgical systems cost a lot and thus increase the cost of surgery. The maintenance cost of these systems is also very high. But the good thing is that these robotic surgeries saves the number of days spent by a patient in hospital and the recovery time is also reduced. A surgeon should also be trained on these surgical robots before applying it on real patients.

A lot more new surgical robots will come in next few decades. We should hope that in coming decades the surgery cost should also be reduced by making these robots both cost effective and safe for patients.

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