Robot surgery - reassuring or scary?

DaVinci-Robot.jpg

The Global Robotics Institute at the Florida Hospital has just hosted the Third Annual World Robotic Urology Symposium, which brought together 600 healthcare professionals, including world leaders in robotic surgery, from around the globe. The field of robotic surgery is slowly building followers among surgeons, who swear by its accuracy and precision. In addition, robotic surgery promises reduced costs, mostly due to shorter anesthesia, less blood loss, smaller wounds and, ultimately, shorter hospital stays. And then there's always the possibility of remote robot surgery, promising to save lives in remote communities, war zones, and disaster-stricken areas - or simply allowing you to be operated by the top surgeon of your choice, without the need to fly around the globe.

This year's conference program included 10 live surgeries beamed in from around the country. The not-so-faint-hearted can follow future live internet broadcasts online - the next live robot surgery webcast is scheduled for tomorrow, March 26th, 12.00pm PST.

In spite of its youth, robotic surgery has already made itself a bad name with some patients: Germany's RoboDoc debacle has resulted in over 100 lawsuits of patients suffering muscular and nerve tissue damage after undergoing robot-assisted hip-replacement surgery. Nevertheless, Germany has just re-invested 13 Mio Euro in the orthoMIT program to develop robotic surgical strategies.

For further reading, make sure to check out a previous post on underwater robot surgery as well as the 2006 IEEE Spectrum article Doc at a distance.

Image: The Da Vinci Surgical Robot

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