The simplest definition of robotic surgery (also referred to as robot-assisted or computer-assisted surgery), is this: a human surgeon guiding a robotic unit in the performance of a surgical procedure. Essentially, a qualified surgeon sits at a console detached from a patient, directing a multi-armed robotic unit in the performance of the actual procedure. A view screen connected to a camera provides a highly magnified three-dimensional view of the surgical site, frequently supplemented by magnetic resonance, ultrasound or other means of obtaining a three-dimensional perspective.
What is Robotic Surgery?
For surgeons, precision is one of the main advantages of using robots. For laparoscopic procedures, for example, incisions can be far smaller, thereby reducing the possibility of infection and shortening recovery times. For procedures such as open-heart surgery, where brute strength is needed to spread the ribs to open the chest cavity, a robot’s capacity for greater control can make that portion of the procedure far smoother and safer than if it were performed by a human.
For the past several years, a host of procedures have become the province of robot surgical assistance, including laparoscopic prostatectomies, prostate resections, cholecystectomies, appendectomies, hysterectomies, and joint replacements. Indeed, a whopping 86% of the 85,000 prostate surgeries performed in the U.S. in 2009 were robotically assisted. In addition, surgeries involving reconstruction, nerve fiber and blood vessel work and tumor excision (especially brain tumors) now incorporate robotic assistance, and febotics (or robot-assisted fetal surgery) is a fast-progressing area of current research.
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