I, Medical Robot
Written by Pinnacle Health
As more and more hospitals add hybrid operating rooms to their facilities, the sight of robotically-assisted surgical procedures is becoming much more common. In the medical profession we are constantly looking for new ways to provide better treatment, cut down on recuperation time and increase room availability. A lot of professionals have been surprised and impressed at how well robotic solutions are able to do that and the da Vinci Surgical System is a prime example.
Previously, patients would have to go to a cardiac catheterisation lab to get their hearts imaged before being transferred back to an operating room. After that they could be moved to yet another facility where there was an open recovery room – all of which contributed to a very lengthy hospital stay. Transferring from place to place like this just increases the time it takes to do the procedures and to recuperate from the trauma to the body.
Hybrid operating rooms (Ors), on the other hand, combine cutting edge imaging technology with all the functions of a standard OR. This means doctors can perform many of the same operations with a minimally invasive procedure which leads to a faster recovery, as well as less pain, trauma and risk of infection.
BUILDING A BETTER PROCEDURE
The da Vinci Surgical System was developed for use in these hybrid ORs. This precise machine allows doctors to perform delicate and complex operations with minimal invasiveness. The machine itself employs four robotic arms – one for the imaging camera while the others manipulate the surgical tools. The da Vinci system is positioned over the top of the patient while the doctors sit at a console where they can view the images in high definition 3D.
At the console, doctors use hand controllers that translate the movements of the hand, fingers, and wrists into precise real-time actions of the surgical tools with zero hand tremor. Doctors are using these surgical robots to perform the types of surgeries that would have previously required cutting or breaking bones just to get at the right part of the heart. Now, because of the vision and control that these machines provide, these procedures are being completed more effectively with less blood loss and faster recovery times. When you do not have to repair an entire rib cage, patients seem to get on their feet much faster.
PUTTING THE ROBOTS TO WORK
To be clear, robotic surgical systems do not do anything on their own. They do not have any kind of autonomous thinking software that would allow them to act without a doctor at the controls. Even so, just watching these four robotic arms at work on a patient is an impressive sight – it really does put you in mind of a science fiction movie for more reasons that one. Not only does the technology look impressive, but a patient recovering in one or two weeks instead of eight to ten after major heart surgery is also something that was outside the realm of possibility not too long ago.
So far, the da Vinci Surgical System has been used in cardiothoracic surgery, general surgery, urology, gynecology, head and neck surgery and more. New doctors are specifically asking hospitals if they have hybrid operating rooms and how they are implementing robotics in their procedures. This is something a lot of doctors are looking forward to using.
LEARNING THE SYSTEM
There is no proficiency without sufficient training and because a robotic system does not provide the same tactile feedback that doctors get working directly on a patient, there is certainly a learning curve here that must be addressed. While many physicians are excited about the prospects and potential of a robotic system, some have reported that it took some time before they felt really comfortable behind the controls.
Hospitals can add the robots, but the surgeons have to add the clinical proficiency. The best training programs take doctors through the surgical techniques that the da Vinci Surgical System was created to handle. They will provide opportunities for real, hands-on training so when the time comes to sit behind the controls, doctors will have the skill to manipulate the robotic arms to perform some of the most precise and complex surgical procedures possible.
The da Vinci Surgical System is so precise it can peel a grape perfectly: