Robotic surgery has been employed in some hospitals since the early 2000s where robots are used in performing surgeries. However, there are certain surgical fields where robotic surgery has overtaken traditional open surgery, potentially changing the nature and future of surgery.
In traditional open surgery, neurosurgeons need to make large incisions in order to gain access and reach the specific organs they needed to operate on and treat, replace or remove. For the patients, it meant big, noticeable and unsightly scars. It also meant longer periods of recovery.
Innovations in Surgery
Continuous research and development led to the introduction of laparoscopic surgery in the ‘70s as the first less invasive surgical procedure. However, minimally-invasive type of surgery was rather limiting especially in performing complex procedures involving removal of complex tumors. And then emerged the robot technology which was incorporated in certain procedures in the surgery room and to date continues to revolutionize the medical field specifically, surgery.
The use of high-tech robot allows the neurosurgeons to perform complicated surgical procedures using less aggressive and less invasive approach. The precision and accuracy of the robot’s movements is more than enough reason for patients with complex surgical cases to prefer robotic surgery over the traditional approach. Aside from precision, robotic surgery leaves hardly noticeable scars and requires less time to recover.
How Robotic Surgery Works
A robotic surgery system has two components – the robot and the control console system. The robot operates on the patient while the control console is operated by a neurosurgeon. The high-tech robot has three small robotic arms that attach to various surgical instruments such as scissors, scalpel or electrocautery instruments. The last arm has the endoscopic camera which sends the images to the control console giving the neurosurgeon 3 dimensional view of the operative area. During the procedure, the neurosurgeon looks through the console’s eye holes to see a 3D image of the procedure while carefully maneuvering the robotic arms through two foot pedals and two hand controllers. The robot will capture the surgeon’s movement through the robotic arms and carries out the surgeon’s movement instruction on the patient. Entry to the patient’s body to reach the target organ for surgery is allowed through the tiny incisions made by the robotic arms in much more precise and efficient manner.
Robotic Surgery with Single Incision
In the past years, neurosurgeons made large incisions using conventional tools with their own hands. Today, with robotic surgery, neurosurgeons sit at a computer console, guiding the robotic arms in entering the patient’s body through small keyhole-sized incisions. Although it is a minimally invasive procedure, robotic surgery still requires multiple incisions to allow passage separate of the robotic arms and the camera into the body. The robotic arms will do the cutting and stitching while the camera system will guide the neurosurgeons through the images projected at the console or screen.
There are hospitals in Louisiana which have invested in robotic surgery systems as a push to efforts advancing the use of minimally invasive surgery procedures for most surgery cases. This allows neurosurgeons in Louisiana to offer lumbar spine surgery using robotic surgery system to their patients. Some of the more advanced hospitals in Louisiana have robotic surgery systems that require only a single incision wherein which the robotic arm and camera will pass through to reach the target area or organ in the body making the robotic surgery even less invasive. This means having only one wound to heal and less time to stay in the hospital to recover. This can be performed using long and thin laparoscopic instruments which neurosurgeons wield as they look at the video monitor, ready to guide the robot in the step-by-step surgical procedures. For some neurosurgeons who have been using robot in their surgery cases, robots are the extension and multiplier of the surgeon’s hands. Where the human surgical hands are restricted in movement or reaching specific angles, the robotic arms have more flexibility and workability.
Lumbar Spine Surgery using Robotic Surgical System
Neurosurgeons consider this a revolutionary and innovative less intrusive approach to lumbar spine surgery which usually entails prolonged hospital confinement and more blood loss if done through the conventional and traditional open back surgery. With a robotic surgical system, neurosurgeons are allowed to view a three-dimensional plane with multi-angle orientations providing the neurosurgeon with more flexibility in manipulating the target area without causing damage or harm to surrounding healthy tissues.
More and more neurosurgeons are embracing the robotic surgery technology, knowing fully well how steady hands are critical in their line of work. Studies have it that robotic arms are ten times steadier than human surgical hands. Hence, in most neurosurgery procedures, where steady hands are necessary, using robotic arms presents more advantage or benefit for the patient. NeuroArm, a robotic device which combines MRI technology with stereotactic surgery allows the neurosurgeons to have detailed anatomical information and a steady platform to operate. Neurosurgeons are able to make large movements with the control but it will result in fine movements of the robot.
While robotic surgery is fairly new technology with a little over a decade of existence, with continuous development and improvement, robotic surgery may just well change the landscape in the medical field and become the future in the field of surgery.
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