Posted by: robotnews | April 6, 2007

The Da Vinci of our Era – Only the fast gets to comment

Minimally Invasive Surgery (MIS) refers to any form of surgery that works through small incisions. Here’s the thing about small incisions: it hurts less, results in fewer complications (and hence, less scarring), and most importantly, the usage of unsightly plasters can be avoided. The benefits of having MIS are obvious but it has its share of detractors too.

Firstly, surgeons are human beings, so it is just not possible for them to suddenly know how to perform MIS. It takes an extremely long time for them to learn the techniques of MIS. Secondly, surgeons lose tactile sensation when performing MIS. Thirdly, the instruments and angles in which MIS can be performed are seriously limited. There is probably nothing we can do about the first problem. As for the latter two problems, the solution lies in the field of robotics.

Much research is currently being put in the Da Vinci surgical system. Its purpose is as follows:

  • To restore tactile sensation
  • To restore dexterity

These can be achieved through a force feedback system.

Also, the Da Vinci surgical system is able to mimic the actions of the surgeon’s hands. Natural movements by a surgeon’s hands will be translated to precise micro-movements by “motion scaling” software. Essentially, this means that there are now fewer risks involved in surgery that requires extreme precision such as nerve repair. The reduction in risks is due to the fact that unlike the Da Vinci system, hands of a human surgeon will suffer from tremors as adrenaline courses through his veins.

If you have issues with having a robot operate on your body, I have this to say to you, “Just sign the indemnity form and let the doctors do what needs to be done! You wouldn’t know the difference anyway since you’ll be unconscious from the general anesthesia!”

On a more serious note, let it be known that Drs. David Yuh and Allison Okamura at Johns Hopkins are working very diligently to implement sensory feedback capabilities on the Da Vinci system.

I wish, for the sake of mankind, that they succeed.

Brought to you by,
Nicholas Koh (U045902U)

References:


Pictures taken from:

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Responses

  1. This is a very useful invention for human being. However, I am concern about how could this machine handle all type of operations or it only can handle a few specific types of operation.

    Phan Tien Khoi
    U037846R

  2. Oh, no worries there.

    This machine can only handle specific types of surgery. Research is still being done to broaden the applications of MIS.

    For now, let’s just say that it’s extremely useful for nerve surgery since it doesn’t tremble and there’s minimal risk of killing nerves that shouldn’t be destroyed.

    For more information, you can click on the links listed in my references.

    Rgds,
    Nick

  3. This is a similar concept to the neuroArm, except it does not have real-time MRI capability. However, the neuroArm is specifically for brain surgery, while this has possibly broader uses.

    Heng Kuan Yen
    U037795M

  4. It will be interesting to see what kind of precise control mechanisms and force feedback mechanism is used in this robot, The bionic arm uses electrical signals from nerves to control motion and to provide sensory feedback. Something like that would provide more natural control for the surgeons.

    Harish Kumar Koundinya
    U037793N

  5. Like all kinds of evolution, this is going to take place step by step. Robots are already in use for very precision-demanding surgeries such as brain surgery (and without their help, my grandma in Germany would not have had a chance to survive).
    Improvements like force-feedback and a better dexterousness will make robots find their way into special areas of surgery step by step. At the same time, surgeons will get used to handling remote actors.
    Pratically, this means there will be a big demand of virtual sensing technologies – an area that’s also known as “augmented reality”.

    Walther Schulze, NT061333Y


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