Surgical tools have evolved according to the needs of both surgeons and patients. Open procedures have long been performed because they allow surgeons to access anatomy with their hands and see the surgical site in 3-D. However, open surgery can be cumbersome and difficult, and the large incisions these procedures require often translate to long recoveries for the patient.
This brought forth laparoscopic surgery, a minimally invasive surgical technique intended to decrease the size of incisions and expedite recovery. Laparoscopic surgery brought about its own difficulties. The tiny tools used to perform these surgeries were not as flexible for surgeons as their own hands, and the movements required for this surgery are difficult to master as they’re reversed, meaning that if a surgeon needs to move the tip of an instrument down, they have to move their hand up.
Now surgery is set for another revolution thanks to advanced robotics. Intuitive, a leader in surgical innovation, is developing and manufacturing surgical technology such as the da Vinci surgical system. The da Vinci surgical system is a state-of-the-art machine, which utilizes robotics to limit the invasiveness of operations, giving surgeons greater levels of precision, vision, and control during surgery.
In 2017, the significance of this technology hit home for one of the very people working to advance it. When Ted Rogers, Intuitive’s vice president of vision engineering, was diagnosed with an aggressive form of prostate cancer, his surgeon relied on one of the products he designed to treat his condition.
Robot-assisted surgeries allow doctors to perform minimally invasive surgeries with only tiny incisions to fit small robotic tools into a patient’s body. The tools are then controlled by a skilled surgeon at a nearby console. Using surgical robots may enable faster recovery times than open surgery. For an “open” prostatectomy (surgical removal of the prostate gland), a patient would have previously needed to stay in the hospital for at least a few days. With robotic surgery, it may be possible for a patient to be back home within 24 hours.
Safer surgeries and faster recoveries: that’s something we can get behind.