Robotic Surgery

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Robotic surgery, computer-assisted surgery, and robot-assisted surgery are terms for various technological developments that currently are developed to support a range of surgical procedures. Robot-assisted surgery was developed to overcome limitations of minimally invasive surgery. Instead of directly moving the instruments the surgeon uses a computer console to manipulate the instruments attached to multiple robot arms. The computer translates the surgeonís movements, which are then carried out on the patient by the robot. Other features of the robotic system include, for example, an integrated tremor filter and the ability for scaling of movements (changing of the ratio between the extent of movements at the master console to the internal movements of the instruments attached to the robot). The console is located in the same operating room as the patient, but physically separated from the operative workspace, or in another place. Since the surgeon does not need to be in the immediate location of the patient while the operation is being performed, it can be possible for specialists to perform remote surgery on patients. This is especially important to shield the personnel from X-rays that are used for monitoring during operations. Robots can also perform surgery without a human surgeon. Because patient recovery after robot-assisted heart surgery is quicker, the hospital stay is shorter. On average patients leave the hospital two to five days earlier than patients who have undergone traditional open-heart surgery and return to work and normal activity 50% more quickly. Reduced recovery times are not only better for the patient, they also reduce the number of staff needed during surgery, nursing care required after surgery, and, therefore, the overall cost of hospital stays. Compared with other minimally invasive surgery approaches, robot-assisted surgery gives the surgeon better control over the surgical instruments and a better view of the surgical site. In addition, surgeons no longer have to stand throughout the surgery and do not tire as quickly. Naturally occurring hand tremors are filtered out by the robotís computer software. Finally, the surgical robot can continuously be used by rotating surgery teams. While the use of robotic surgery has become an item in the advertisement of medical services, critics point out that studies that indicate that long-term results are superior to those after laparoscopic surgery are lacking. The robotic system does not come cheap and has a learning curve. Data is absent that proves the increased costs can be justified. In medical literature, very experienced surgeons tend to publish their results with robotic systems. However, these may not be representative of surgeons with lesser experience. The cost of robotic surgical systems as used in hospitals lies between $750,000 US and $1.2 million. Numerous feasibility studies have been done to determine whether the purchase of such systems are worthwhile. As it stands, opinions differ dramatically. [READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE]





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