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.
Stay Connected

Volume XIV Issue I > The Da Vinci Robot

InSite® Vision System

In order to provide surgeons with a clear and three dimensional picture of the operation, a special imaging technique is used. The InSite® Vision system consists of two high-resolution cameras and two light sources that capture images of the surgical area from two different angles (Fig. 6). The two images are then synchronized and shown on the surgeon’s console as a stereoscopic, three-dimensional image [3]. In addition to constructing a three-dimensional view of the operation, the vision system is also able to magnify the image up to 10 times the original scale [3]. The magnified image enables the surgeon to manipulate smaller areas with increased precision and accuracy.
© Intuitive Surgical, Inc./© Intuitive Surgical, Inc.
Figure 6: A Single-Site™ camera (center) and two Endowrist® instruments. ©2013 Intuitive Surgical, Inc.
In order to control the camera movement, the surgeon must press down on the console's foot pedal, which picks up and moves the cameras. The surgeon then uses the master controller to direct the movement of the camera inside the patient [6].

The Limitations of Robotic Surgery

Though the da Vinci robot offers a multitude of technological tools to make minimally invasive surgeries a viable option, there are still several issues that must be addressed. Not unlike any other technique in the medical field, the da Vinci robotic system requires extensive training in order to be mastered. It is estimated that surgeons must undergo over 1,600 robotic surgical operations before they can perform with a high success rate [8]. This implies longer training times and more resources expended in training surgeons.
Also, surgeons have no tactile feedback and cannot physically feel the tissue and area they are working in. Moreover, robotic surgery offers a limited view of the surgical area and does not expose the areas above and below the view provided by the camera [5]. Though there currently are severe limitations to robot-assisted surgeries, it is important to continue striving for new technologies to automatize the operating room, as they may one day completely change the course of surgical medicine for the better.


    • [1] M.E. Moran. (2006, Dec.). "Epochs in Endourology The da Vinci Robot." Journal of Endourology. [On-line]. 20(12). Available:​m/doi/abs/10.1089/en​d.2006.20.986 [Apr. 1, 2011].
    • [2] "da Vinci Surgery - Minimally Invasive Robotic Surgery with the da Vinci Surgical System." Internet: www.davincisurgery.c​om, 2008 [Apr. 1, 2011].
    • [3] D.D. Thiel and H.N. Winfield. (2008, Apr.). "Robotics in Urology: Past, Present, and Future." Journal of Endourology. [On-line]. 22(4). Available:​/pubmed/18419224 [Apr. 1, 2011].
    • [4] S. Senapati and A.P. Advincula. (2007, Feb.). "Surgical Techniques: Robot-assisted Laparoscopic Myomectomy with the da Vinci Surgical System." Journal of Robotic Surgery. [On-line]. 1(69). Available:​ical%20techniques.pd​f [Apr. 1, 2011].
    • [5] O. Elhage, B. Challacombe, D. Murphy, M.S. Khan, and P. Dasgupta. "The Evolution and Ergonomics of Robot-Assisted Surgical Systems." Rehabilitation Robotics. [On-line]. Available:​ooks/rehabilitation_​robotics/the_evoluti​on_and_ergonomics_of​_robotic-assisted_su​rgical_systems [Apr 1, 2011].
    • [6] I.A. Broeders and J. Ruurda. (2001) "Robotics Revolutionizing Surgery: the Intuitive Surgical "da Vinci" System." Industrial Robot: An International Journal. [On-line]. 28(5), pp. 387-392. Available: www.emeraldinsight.c​om/journals.htm?arti​cleid=1454217 [Apr. 1, 2011].
    • [7] A.P. Kypson, L.W. Nifong, and W.R. Chitwood. (2003). "Robotic Cardiac Surgery." Journal of Long-Term Effects of Medical Implants. [On-line]. 13(6), pp. 451-64. Available:​/pubmed/15056064?dop​t=Abstract [Apr. 1, 2011].
    • [8] M.F. Cortez. (2011, Feb.) "Doctors Need 1,600 Robot-Aided Prostate Surgeries for Skills, Study Finds." Bloomberg. [On-line]. Available:​ws/2011-02-16/doctor​s-need-1-600-robot [Apr. 1, 2011].