When most people visualize surgery, they imagine a person performing an operation. The typical image is of a person in hospital scrubs, a gown and gloves. The classic idea of a surgeon is someone asking a surgical nurse to pass them a scalpel. However, all of this is changing radically. Now, human surgeons are being joined by robots in the operating room.
In the past year alone, over 5,000 robots have been used in over 1 million procedures. They were used in general surgeries, orthopedic surgeries and gynecological surgeries. The robots were used in operations in cities and towns around the world. Robots are being used in life-saving surgeries, as well as in cosmetic procedures like hair transplants.
Why are robots being used for surgeries? Shouldn’t these operations be left to human experts, who can make complex decisions in the moment? Actually, the numbers show that robots make better calls. Robots make fewer errors. They’ve been very successful, and patients have good outcomes when they’re used. Humans also still work closely with the robots. Together, they make a powerful and advanced team.
Using robotics in surgery is hardly a new idea. Robots have been used in surgery for over 30 years. The Kawasaki Puma 560 was one of the first. Originally designed for use in manufacturing, the Puma was modified to be used for biopsies. Since the 1980s, the world of biotech has changed and expanded. The da Vinci robot made by Intuitive Surgical is one of the most famous surgical robots. Other companies in the space include Accuray, Johnson & Johnson and even Google.
Robotic surgery is bringing a number of companies together from a variety of scientific disciplines. For example, Google’s biological research company, Verily, has partnered with Johnson & Johnson’s Ethicon Endo Surgery to form Verb Surgical. With Johnson & Johnson’s medical experience, and Google’s expertise with data, this collaboration could have very interesting results.
IT and cloud computing are great resources for surgical robots. These resources seem designed to work well together. Human surgeons will always be an influence on robotic resources. Surgeons can provide input in the form of information about routine and difficult cases. The cloud could allow robots to access this information as-needed during a procedure.
Technology is already revolutionizing the world of surgery. As technology advances, the surgeries robots can handle will only increase. It will be interesting to see what the future holds for this burgeoning field.