The da Vinci Robot (Fig. 1), built and designed by Intuitive Surgical in Sunnyvale, California, is a robot that has been revolutionizing medicine by helping surgeons treat a multitude of conditions, including, but not limited to, bladder cancer, coronary artery disease, prostate cancer, and throat cancer . By using a medical camera and precise robotic arms, the da Vinci robot creates a reliable and effective interface for the surgery, simplifying the work for the doctor and speeding up the recovery of the patient.
The History of Medical Robots
A Breakdown of the da Vinci Robot
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 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 . 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 . The tools offer seven degrees of mobility, meaning that they are capable of surpassing the limits of the human wrist . With such a wide range of motion, the surgeon is able to perform maneuvers that would be impossible to accomplish with his own hands .
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 .
InSite® Vision System
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 .
The Limitations of Robotic Surgery
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