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The Present and Future of Robotic Surgery

Robot-assisted surgery is currently carried out using the da Vinci Surgical System, a system that includes surgical arms, controls, and magnified imaging and recording. The Da Vinci system has been used to perform prostate removal, hysterectomies, thyroid cancer removal, gastric bypass, and a variety of other surgical procedures. Using the robotic system,

surgeons can make small incisions, insert technological devices into the body, and precisely control its movements from afar. Because the system has not yet advanced to work independently of human assistance, the surgeon is responsible for manipulating every single step of the surgery. Despite the importance of these technological advancements in the medical field, it is important to recognize that robot-assisted surgery has both its benefits and risks.

Analyzing the Benefits:

Robot-assisted surgery has many advantages, the first being that it results in a shorter recovery time. Because the doctor only has to make a small incision, the patient’s healing time is significantly decreased. Other benefits for the patient include less pain and reduced risk of infection, considering the incision size and advanced capabilities of the robot. The most common cause of infection in surgery is exposure to harmful bacteria. With robotic surgery, this risk is decreased because the surgery is less invasive and the surgical site can be easily monitored and treated during the recovery period.

While robot-assisted surgery clearly benefits the patient, it also provides some advantages for the surgeon. First, the surgeon gains better access to the surgery site. This is because the robot can fit into small areas where a surgeon’s scalpel may not necessarily fit. This also allows for a larger range of motion and dexterity. With a robot arm, a surgeon can precisely cut and sew veins, tissue, and ligaments by simply controlling what the robot does.

The surgery can be done with much more accuracy and skill than a surgeon might be able to do without the aid of robotic technology. Finally, the surgeon is able to see a high resolution video of the operation field through the inserted camera. This way, a surgeon has better visualization of the surgical field, thus increasing their surgical precision.

All of these benefits can make robotic surgery a better option for many patients!

Analyzing the Risks:

The main risk of having a robotic surgery is having the robot malfunction or break down. This has happened in less than 1% of patients, but a malfunction can have fatal consequences. A surgeon may have to manually remove the robot which can sometimes be difficult. Additionally, the surgeon may need to complete the surgery by hand, which can result in a larger incision and thus, a longer recovery time. Other potential risks include damage to surrounding organs or tissues, and excessive blood loss due to hemorrhage. Ways that the surgical team can reduce these risks are constant communication between the surgeon, anesthesiologist, and OR technicians, standardizing procedures and checking technological devices thoroughly, and ensuring that the team is trained and credentialed to work with robotic technology.

The Future of Robotic Surgery:

Doctors hope that with the increase of telemedicine, they will one day be able to perform surgeries over long distances, possibly while they are in another state, country, or even continent. This would entail having different surgical centers set up in which doctors can work together and communicate from across the world to an area where doctors need to treat a surgical patient. Another intriguing idea is having a single incision site for all surgeries and being able to have the robot extend itself from within the skin into other parts of the patient’s body. This would allow for less issues both during the surgery and while the patient recovers, especially with patients who need multiple surgeries.

Because of a plethora of technological advances, robot-assisted surgery will continue to develop and grow. New surgeons are now being trained specifically in robotic surgery in order to keep up with the rapid pace of technological advancement.

Author: Anum Latif

Editor: Simona Hausleitner


“About Robotic Surgery at UCLA.” UCLA Robotic Surgery, UCLA,

Polland, Jennifer. “Watch: This Robot Is Poised To Change Surgery Forever.” Business Insider, Business Insider, 1 Aug. 2012,

“What Are the Potential Risks and Complications of Robotic Surgery?: Marina Robotics.” What Are the Potential Risks and Complications of Robotic Surgery? | Marina Robotics,


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