About this Article
Written by: Beverly Tse
Written on: April 1st, 2011
Tags: health & medicine, biomedical engineering
Thumbnail by: © Intuitive Surgical, Inc./© Intuitive Surgical, Inc.
About the Author
Beverly Tse was a junior majoring in Biomedical Engineering at USC. She was introduced to the da Vinci Robotic console while she was volunteering at USC University Hospital and watched a prostatectomy operation utilizing the robot.
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Volume XIV Issue I > The Da Vinci Robot

Surgeon Console

The surgeon console is like the brain of the da Vinci Robot. It provides a workstation for the surgeon to control the robotic arms and tools without even having to be in the operating room. The console itself is composed of three parts: a visual display, a foot pedal for camera manipulation, and a master controller that captures the movement from the surgeon's hands [3]. At the end of the controller are attachments that resemble surgical tweezers, which the surgeon manipulates using his thumb and index finger. The movement of these tweezers are then translated to move the tools at the operating table.
© Intuitive Surgical, Inc./© Intuitive Surgical, Inc.
Figure 3: Close up of Surgeon Console. ©2013 Intuitive Surgical, Inc.
Since medical procedures often require the surgeon to be concentrated for several consecutive hours, the console was designed to be as comfortable as possible. The seat and control handles can be adjusted to provide an ergonomic workplace for the surgeon during the operation. Also, the console has arm and head rests that improve comfort levels for the surgeon and help avoid fatigue during long procedures (Fig. 3).

Robot Arms and EndoWrist® Instruments

The robot cart is placed at the operation table, separate from the surgeon’s console. One of the robotic arms holds the camera, while the other three arms hold the special da Vinci robot tools, or EndoWrist® instruments (Fig. 4). In order for the robotic limbs to perform the operation inside the patient's body, incisions of 3-12 mm in length are made (a significant improvement from the typical 10-40 cm incision made during a traditional open surgery). These less invasive incisions dramatically decrease the area of the patient's body that is exposed to the outside environment, thus decreasing the risk of an infection and significantly reducing the size of postoperative scars. The smaller incision points also reduce blood loss and lead to an easier and speedier recovery for the patient [6].
© Intuitive Surgical, Inc./© Intuitive Surgical, Inc.
Figure 4: A collection of Endowrist® instruments. ©2013 Intuitive Surgical, Inc.
The Endowrist® instruments provide for the surgeon a multitude of surgical tools. The surgical tools can be exchanged throughout the surgical procedure by a bedside surgeon [4]. Some of the instruments provided include the traditional surgical tools such as a forceps and the curved scissors (Fig. 5), as well as more specialized and surgery-specific devices, which allow for minimal equipment exchanges during a surgical procedure [4]. The tools offer seven degrees of mobility, meaning that they are capable of surpassing the limits of the human wrist [3]. With such a wide range of motion, the surgeon is able to perform maneuvers that would be impossible to accomplish with his own hands [3].
© Intuitive Surgical, Inc./© Intuitive Surgical, Inc.
Figure 5: Endowrist® instruments being manipulated by surgeon ©2013 Intuitive Surgical, Inc.
The robotic arms and the computer system also reduce the physiological tremor produced by the human hand. Since even the smallest vibration could result in a surgical failure, it is imperative that any hand shaking is filtered out so that surgeries can be more exact. The computer system can also scale the motion of the surgeon, enabling him to work in smaller areas yet still have a comfortable range of motion [7].