DaVinci Surgical System
Robots may not yet be performing surgery themselves, but the da Vinci Surgical System is proof that robots can be valuable assistants in the operating room.
Built by Intuitive Surgical Inc., da Vinci is used during minimally invasive surgery, sometimes called keyhole surgery. The robot itself is unable to make decisions on its own or to make automatic incisions; the human surgeon remains 100 percent in control. But the robot translates the movements of the surgeon's hands into precise micro-movements, manipulating tiny surgical instruments that are inserted into the patient through one-centimeter-diameter incisions.
The da Vinci System features a magnified 3D high-definition vision system and tiny wristed instruments that bend and rotate far greater than the human wrist. Da Vinci thus provides surgeons with superior visualization, enhanced dexterity, greater precision and ergonomic comfort. For the patient, a da Vinci procedure can offer all the potential benefits of a minimally invasive procedure, a shorter hospital stay, a quicker recovery and faster return to normal daily activities.
At da Vinci's induction into the Robot Hall of Fame, Dan Jones, executive director for external affairs at Intuitive, noted that in 2010, 10 years after the Food and Drug Administration approved da Vinci, a total of 600,000 patients had undergone procedures with the machine. A little more than two years later, he added, that total had jumped to 1.5 million. Jones said:
"That growth tells us we're still in the very early years of realizing the full impact that robotics can have on surgery."