The same kinds of detection and emergency-braking features that have helped make cars safer may soon be coming to the OR. These surgical robots could show surgeons things they can’t see with their eyes, like real-time blood flow, and enable them to avoid tissue damage as they operate.
Advancements in AI and other technologies are breathing new life into the world of robotic-assisted surgical devices, making it easier for surgeons to navigate small incisions, understand changes to the body and limit strain on joints.
Performing a robotic procedure today can look a touch like playing a computer game, but because the technology progresses, some futurists think we’ll reach a day soon when surgeons won’t even have to be within the OR in the least during a procedure.
“We want to get rid of surgeons from doing the fine precision work, which is basically about how good you’re along with your hands, and move them into a more supervisory role of how and where you treat disease,” said Michael Yip, an professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of California, San Diego.
Part of Yip’s research involves ways for a robot to explore the body and provides the doctor several courses of action from which to settle on. Once the doctor decides how to proceed, the robot could execute the procedure while the doctor supervises.
The concept of autonomous robotic surgical machines can seem straight out of fantasy, and they’re admittedly a few years from ever becoming reality. But Yip thinks the technology could broaden access to top surgeons and specialists, making it so patients in rural hospitals or on battlefields can get an equivalent treatment as those in big metropolitan areas with numerous specialists to pick from.
Robotic surgery has long been a part of American operating rooms, driven primarily by Intuitive Surgical, which dominates the marketplace for soft-tissue robotic-assisted devices. Some of the latest entrants happen to be a number of the most important health-care companies within the world — Johnson & Johnson, Medtronic, and Stryker — are investing billions of dollars into a replacement wave of surgical robots. If your company is looking at surgical robots also, we can help!