Robotic surgery or computer-assisted surgery is the terms used to address technological developments where robotic systems are used to aid surgical procedures. Robotic surgery has been quite effective in addressing the limitations of traditional laparoscopic surgery; thereby completing complex and advanced surgical procedures with increased precision in a minimally invasive approach is creating euphoria among healthcare professionals. Large number of advantages & increased favorable outcomes linked with robotic surgery has proved its effectiveness. The field of robotic surgery is constantly growing and evolving. Surgeons believe that robotic surgery is, indeed, the future of surgical healthcare. It is predicted that the coming years shall observe an increased adoption of robotic-assisted techniques thereby, driving the growth of the robotic surgery market to greater heights. Research analysts have estimated the global robotic surgery market to grow at a CAGR of more than 11% by 2020, during the forecast period, 2018-2020.
Robotic surgery enables surgeons to perform operations which were traditionally not amenable to minimal access techniques. This technology is a boon for patients with conditions in an organ located in “cramped spaces”. Thus, robotic surgery can be applicable to a wider range of procedures & is presently used to perform a plethora of surgical procedures. It is noted that numerous cases have reported favorable results through robotic surgery.
Robotic surgery is an advanced form of laparoscopic surgery where computer-controlled robots are used to assist the surgeon in performing certain surgical procedures. Using the robotic technology, surgeons can perform complex surgical procedures through tiny incisions. Surgical robots are computer-controlled devices which can be programmed to aid in the positioning and manipulation of the surgical instruments thus, enabling the surgeon with increased accuracy, flexibility and control.
In computer-assisted surgery, the surgeon controls the instruments either by a direct telemanipulator or through computer control.
- A telemanipulator is a manipulator which permits the surgeon to perform the normal movements linked with surgery while these movements are carried out by the robotic arms by utilizing end-effectors and manipulators.
- In computer-controlled systems, a computer is used by the surgeon to control the robotic arms and its end-effectors.
Advantages for surgeons using robotic surgery are:
- Better visualization.
- Increased dexterity.
- Improved precision.
As compared to the traditional surgery, robotic surgery offers several benefits to the patients, which include:
- Reduced operative time.
- Shortened hospital stay.
- Reduced complication rates.
- Enables surgeons to perform finer tasks, as compared to the traditional laparoscopic and open procedures.
- Decreased pain & discomfort.
- Quicker recovery time.
- Decreased chances of infection as the incisions are small.
- Lesser blood loss.
- Minimal scarring.
Robotic surgical technology is yet to achieve its full potential. This is due to a few limitations, which are as follows:-
- Performance of robotic procedures requires specialized training.
- Cost-effectiveness is a major issue, but the reduced operative time and hospital stay contribute to the cost-effectiveness of robotic surgery.
- Weight of the robotic equipment currently used.
Advancements in Robotic Surgery
Some of the most impressive advancements in robotic surgery are as follows:-
o Mazor Robotics’ Renaissance Guidance System
Renaissance Guidance System by Mazor Robotics is indicated in spinal procedures. A small robot is placed just over the patient while the patient is under anesthesia. Using a computer system & computed tomography scans, the surgeon can view the patient’s spine & the robot is used to align a special type of drill, to exactly place pedicle screws used in spinal surgery.
- Smart Tissue Autonomous Robot (STAR)
Smart Tissue Autonomous Robot illuminates its surroundings (inside the body) using lights similar to infrared. STAR is good in performing repetitive procedures that require ample of precision.
o Virtual Incision Corp’s Miniature Robot
Virtual Incision’s robot features a small, self-contained surgical device which can be inserted into the patient’s abdomen through a tiny incision.
The aim of developing robotically-assisted surgery was to overcome the limitations of the traditional minimally-invasive surgical procedures and to boost the capabilities of surgeons performing open surgery. This advancement in surgical technology is likely to reshape the way surgery is practiced. Robotic surgery does indeed have a great future in the medical industry.
About the Author
Dr. Varsha Sharma-Kapila, MD (Hom) is a Consultant Homoeopath, practicing for more than two decades. She is an Associate Professor & Guide to post graduate students at Dr. G D Pol Foundation, YMT Homoeopathic Medical College, Mumbai. She has got a vast experience in treating several acute & chronic ailments through Homoeopathy.