"If you would had told me in the '90s, when I was still in medical school, that I would be using robots to make incisions one day, I would not have believed you" said Dr. Jim Hu, a surgeon at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston. Since medical school completion, he has used operating room bionic robotic devices to remove over 600 cancerous prostrates. The Bionic robotic assistant, as they are commonly referred to, allow operating room physicians' to overcome limitations that sometimes plague human doctors in complicated operating room procedures. With a robotic assistant, doctors are able to make smaller incisions, thus greatly reducing patient blood loss. The robotic assistant can also be programmed to auto correct a doctor's shaky hand during instrument and manipulations procedures.
Throughout the United States and some foreign countries, the multi-armed robotic doctor assistant is steadily becoming a mainstay in hospital operating rooms. They resembling a miniature version of the robotic arm devices used in automobile manufacturing assembly plants. A patient who had no prior knowledge that such a device is going to be used as part of their surgical procedure, if unexpectedly awaken from anesthesia, could possibly imagine they were being probed by aliens or woke up in the distant future. With the ability to rotate 540 degrees and inclusive of an additional seven degrees of freedom, the mechanical surgical assistant grants far greater dexterity with surgical instrument than when held in human fingers.
The top of the lines human-robotic assistant medical team is the da Vinci HD Surgical System. It is manufactured, along with other lower optioned robotic assistants by Intuitive Surgical which is located in Sunnyvale California. Bionic robotic assistants have been accepted by hospitals nationwide where they perform complicated urology, cardiology, and gynecology operation procedures. The da Vinci Surgical System was first introduced in 2006. Since then many improvements and enhancements have been added including a new powerful high definition digital camera, a fourth arm for more complex procedures, and dual control stations which enable hands on training for new surgeons and tag-team doctor collaboration capabilities for extremely complicated surgical procedures. Other human-robotic doctor assist medical systems are available, some of which are designed for specific surgical procedures.
According to Dr. Hu, bionic robot assistant's are excellent tools and will advance surgical procedures and drastically enhance the successful outcome of once nearly impossible procedures. However, they will not be able to do so without a trained doctor's at the helm. Without the development of more sophisticated artificial intelligence which can recognize the variations in human anatomy and distinguish between healthy and diseased tissue, human physicians will always be needed.
So if you are scheduled for a complicated surgical procedure and wake up prematurely and see what appears to be a mechanical spider performing who knows what on you, do not freak-out, this oddity which is working on you is the doctor's assistant.