Da Vinci robot

In the past many patients suffered from physical complaints after undergoing minimally invasive surgery. The Canadian Medical Protective Association (CMPA) reviewed 423 medical-legal cases consisting of minimally invasive surgery, where patients suffered from injuries such as damaged bowels, blood vessels, reproductive organs or nerves. More tragic, in all, 46 people died because of minimal invasive surgeries performed by humans. 

However, cutting edge technology has been developing and enhancing dramatically in every field, including the surgery field, more precisely in minimally invasive surgery. One of the technical developments that is leading in this specific area is the robot called da Vinci. The robot is unable to perform the surgery by itself. That means doctors are still in control of it. The da Vinci surgical system is comprised of three components, namely; surgeon console, patient-side cart and vision cart. The robotic-assisted surgery helps to minimize injuries caused by human mistakes. 

The surgeon console

The surgeon sits during the whole procedure on the console and controls it. He is capable of viewing the anatomy through a close-up 3D monitor. In addition, the instrument is “wristed”, meaning that the instruments move like a human hand but with a far greater range of motion. The system translates the surgeons hand movements at the console in real time. 

The patient cart

The patient cart is placed next to the patient on the operating table. It consists of the necessary instruments that are required for the surgery. The instruments are controlled and moved in response to the surgeon`s hand movements at the surgeon console. The small instruments make it possible to perform one or a small incision. 

The vision cart

The vision cart is crucial for the communication between the separate systems and enhances the 3D high-definition vision system.

Let`s take an example of a heart surgery and how a doctor treats a heart operation. In the past doctors could only operate on the heart by conduct a long incision down the centre of the chest. Furthermore, the doctor was required to cut through the breastbone and open the ribcage in order to see and work with the heart. The open-heart surgery is still performed. It is incredible how much physical damage is caused by that surgery. Nowadays, doctors are able to carry out procedures involving minimally invasive approaches. One of them is the robotic-assisted surgery, possible with da Vinci, which needs two small incisions to insert the surgical equipment. 

The video demonstrates how Da Vinci robot stitches a grape back together:

Da Vinci method in general demonstrates numerous benefits. One is the decreased risk of complaints after surgery due to the very small wound. Furthermore, the probability of bleeding during operation is reduced. Secondly, da Vinci is able to perform the operation very accurate. In addition, it cancels out the natural vibrating movement of a human hand and finer hand movements can be performed. The recovery takes less time, which means the patient has to spend less time in hospital and can resume daily activities faster. 

Nowadays, robots get more attention due to their incredible abilities. In many work areas robots make their appearances and replace the humans. Of course, robots still have to develop further to be able to perform, in even more work areas. However, would a human accept a robot, which is able to perform more accurate and productive than a human being, in every work area? The human who gets replaced probably, not but what I mean, is the people who have to deal with the robot in certain situations. Let`s take the surgery environment as an example.  

My first thought that came up when I saw a video about a robot performing surgery, “I would never undergo an operation, in which a robot is performing it”. The imagination that the robot would not function well and suddenly would destroy my organs has made a negative attitude towards the performing robot. I trust a human hand more than a robot unless, it is the case that the robot is able to speak. Thus, by speaking with the robot I might would gain some trust and thereby it convinces me to perform the operation. The talking is just a simple contribution, but I think it would make an immense change.  

The da Vinci, however, is different. Da Vinci is not capable of controlling the performance. The doctor has the control over the robot. That, in my case, makes a big difference, due to the fact that the doctor still has the control over the robot.  

Here are some articles illustrating the advantage of robotic assisted surgery:

Robotic-Assisted Versus Thoracoscopic Lobectomy Outcomes From High-Volume Thoracic Surgeons.

Early outcomes of robotic-assisted inguinal hernia repair in obese patients: a multi-institutional, retrospective study.

Does robotic-assisted transabdominal preperitoneal (R-TAPP) hernia repair facilitate contralateral investigation and repair without compromising patient morbidity?

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3 Comments

  • Janessa
    Posted October 30, 2019 at 9:13 am 0Likes

    Ah thank you for your blog. I remember seeing the grape-surgery-memes, but didn’t have this much background information. I share your view on letting a robot operate on it’s own. For some reason it still feels safer to leave the surgery itself in the hands of a human. However, who knows what the future will bring?

  • Sanem Cerit
    Posted October 30, 2019 at 12:59 pm 0Likes

    Interesting choice of topic. Due to my interest, I also looked into the incorporation of technological developments into the field of medicine previously. Even though I agree with you on the part that the human surgeon will be in control during the usage of da Vinci machines so the field is not completely robotized yet, however, using such machines in an OR has its disadvantages and ethical concerns that it brings along as well, not the mention the financial aspects and the purchasability of the machines. It differs amongst countries and especially between private and public hospitals however the costs of the da Vinci machine is so high and the applicability of them is still lower that most of the hospitals who have them only have one or two da Vinci machines present and not more. This makes the machines just a trial tool for most occasions and they are underused compared to the overestimations regarding their benefits. However, aside from the practicality of the implementation, I personally think that no perfect machine can have the critical thinking, communication, safety feeling and especially improvising as human surgeons have therefore I would still be in favor of the human force, I guess.

  • Sofia
    Posted December 18, 2019 at 4:11 pm 0Likes

    This is just amazing! I was a bit skeptical at first but examples such as the one of the da Vinci robot stitching back up a grape is amazing. Robotics is not yet advanced enough to produce robots able to perform open heart surgeries on their own, human guidance is still necessary (for now). But I find the fact that robotics is being incorporated in the medical world really mind blowing. I understand the skepticism, but I am personally very optimistic about it.

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