Robotic Surgery

Ryan Lin


The introduction of robotic surgery into the medical world has impacted both surgeons and patients alike. Although robotic surgery is past its infancy stage, there is much more development to come.


What is Robotic Surgery?

Robotic surgery, also known as robot-assisted surgery, uses a robotic system to surgically operate on patients. It has been adopted by many hospitals in both the United States and Europe. In an operation, robotic surgery can be used alongside traditional open surgical procedures or be the only tool used in an operation.

Robotic surgeries tend to be minimally invasive, meaning only tiny incisions are created in a procedure. Other aspects of this form of surgery include more precision, stability, and flexibility than the traditional open surgical procedure. For instance, these machines allow for a clear and detailed view on the operation site in contrast to the naked eye, which may miss important details. With a better examination of the area, a surgeon can operate with higher precision. There can also be areas that are hard for a surgeon’s hands to reach, but with the assistance of a robot, it’s much easier to operate. Most importantly, the complexity of certain surgical procedures require robot surgery to be performed.

The robotic system allows a surgeon to make tiny incisions and insert small instruments carrying a high-definition three-dimensional camera. The surgeon uses a console to operate the instruments. In other words, the robotic system responds to the surgeon’s commands during an operation.

History of Robotic Surgery

Robotic surgery has been around since the 1980s, beginning with the PUMA 560. This machine was first used in 1985 as a stereotactic surgery. This form of surgery is one that is minimally invasive, and removes lesions within tissues and organs.

The development of several new robotic surgery machines have occurred since. This includes the PROBOT in 1988, which was used to conduct a transurethral prostate surgery, and the ROBODOC in 1992 used for femur cavity preparation.

In the 1990s, minimally invasive surgery was introduced along with three new robotic surgery systems: the Da Vinci surgical system and the AESOP and Zeus surgical systems. The Da Vinci system was developed by Intuitive Surgical Inc., and the AESOP and Zeus system was developed by Computer Motion. Eventually, Intuitive Surgical Inc. acquired Computer Motion.

The Da Vinci robotic system is still used worldwide today while the AESOP and Zeus system has been discontinued just a few years after its creation. The Da Vinci X, Da Vinci Xi, and Da Vinci SP have been designed for different types of robotic surgeries. The Da Vinci X and Xi feature the same technologies for robotic surgery. The only difference is that the Da Vinci X is less costly and can be upgraded. The Da Vinci SP is more geared towards operations where narrow areas need to be treated.

Advantages of Robotic Surgery

The advantages of robotic surgery are endless for both the operation itself as well as the people involved. Many advantages of robotic surgery come from its minimally invasive aspect. For instance, there is a faster recovery for the patient because of less tissue damaged. The smaller incisions also result in a lower chance of the development of an infection, less pain, and less visible scars. Moreover, less blood loss results in less blood transfusions needed. Overall, these benefits lead to a faster return to daily life for the patient.

Robotic surgery systems also provide surgeons will several advantages. These advantages come from the technology present in these systems. With a better view of the operations, surgeons are able to make better decisions. The high-resolution camera in a robot surgery system shows real-time images of the area, which provides better access to the area. Surgeon fatigue can also be minimized because surgeons are sitting down compared to traditional surgery where they have to stand for hours on end.

Technology in Robotic Surgery

The most widely used robotic surgery system in the world is the Da Vinci system. There are three parts to this system: the surgeon’s console, patient cart, and vision cart. The surgeon’s console is the place where the surgeon sits, views the surgery itself, and controls how the instruments need to move. The high-definition real-time 3-D images of the area are viewed there. The patient cart holds the camera and the instruments required for surgery. The camera and surgical instruments are attached to mechanical arms. The cart is located next to the patient’s bed where they are operated on. The vision cart is in charge of enabling the communication between all parts of the robotic surgical system. However, parts may vary depending on the particular robotic surgery system, such as varying mechanical arms. The system evolved to have better handling and increased range in motion.

When Can Robotic Surgery Be Used?

Robotic surgery is often used in complex operations that require high precision and some operations may not be able to be performed without robot assistance. Conditions that have been treated with robotic surgery include heart surgery, urologic surgery, endometriosis, and general surgery among many others.

Current Work

While the current robotic surgery system uses instruments controlled by surgeons to operate, researchers are working towards further advancements. They are working to transition into automated systems, where the robots move without the need of a surgeon. Recent tests at the University of California, Berkeley, show that these new robots have matching or greater levels of performance compared to humans operating them. Although the entire surgery can’t be automated, scientists hope to reduce the risks that come with fatigued surgeons. The use of robotic surgery and its advancements will continue to grow well into the foreseeable future.

Works Cited

  1. “About Robotic Surgery: What is Robotic Surgery?” UCLA Health, Accessed 4 December 2021.

  2. “Intuitive | Robotic Assisted Systems | da Vinci Robot.” Intuitive Surgical, Accessed 30 December 2021.

  3. Metz, Cade. “The Robot Surgeon Will See You Now.” The New York Times, 30 April 2021, Accessed 30 December 2021.

  4. “The History of Robotics in Surgical Specialties.” NCBI, Accessed 4 December 2021.

  5. “Robotic Surgery.” Narayana Health, Accessed 4 December 2021.

  6. “Robotic surgery.” Mayo Clinic, 26 March 2021, Accessed 4 December 2021.