Robotic surgery, the game changer in healthcare

In future, more operations will be done by robots. (Pixabay pic)

In tandem with the growth of robotics technology, so too is the increased use of robots in surgery.

Initially introduced in the early 2000s, surgery using robots has come a long way. In many fields of medicine, robotic surgery is now preferred over conventional operations.

Many scientists and professionals in the medical field argue that robotic surgery came into being because of laparoscopic surgery in the late 1970s.

In laparoscopic surgery, the surgeon uses machines to make very small incisions in the body and insert medical instruments and a camera (if required) to perform the surgery.

Traditionally, doctors would have to cut open an entire section of the skin to gain access to the organ they are operating on. Because of this long cut, scarring can be extensive and the post-surgery recovery period, lengthy.

With laparoscopic surgery, doctors can make more accurate incisions with more dexterity and reduce some of the risks associated with many operations.

The robots surgeons use today have even more advanced features, such as 3D high-definition views that can help excise very small pieces of tumours. The doctor controls the robot by hand movements, which are translated into smaller movements by the robot.

Most common robotic surgeries

Robotic surgery is mainly used for removing cancerous growths from a person’s internal organs.

Medicine has not advanced to a level that robots can be used for all surgeries, it is mostly used in operations that were traditionally open.

The most common where robots are used are the removal of one or both kidneys, hysterectomy, prostate, cardiac valve and other complex surgeries.

Many surgeons prefer robots for surgeries that involve the prostate and the kidneys, mainly because large incisions are not required. Plus, the magnifications that the robot’s cameras offer are of much higher resolution than the human eye or a magnifying glass.

Recovery after robotic surgery is often much quicker. (Rawpixel pic)

What are the benefits of robotic surgery?

There are benefits to having robotic surgery and many patients are themselves asking for it. People seem to trust technology more than humans.

It should be noted that in such surgery, the robot is controlled by an experienced surgeon. The surgeon would have trained in the methods to be used and can take over from the robot in an emergency.

Many patients have observed that robotic knee replacement surgery is better than the traditional method. Another benefit of robotic surgery, which could save lives, is that it can be performed remotely.

Say there is an emergency surgery that must be performed immediately and the surgeon is in another city. It might not be an option to wait for them to come to the patient, so the surgery can be performed online.

These long-distance operations are safe because the speed of the internet allows the surgeon to control the robotic arms remotely and perform the surgery on the patient.

How robotic surgery helps surgeons

  • Robots save time. Operations performed the traditional way often require long incisions to reach the organ to be operated on. There is time involved in making the incision and carefully closing it after surgery.
  • A robot has more dexterity. The surgeon can more easily access difficult to reach places without disturbing the surrounding areas. This greatly reduces the risk of blood loss during surgery.
  • The patient’s recovery time is shorter. This frees up the surgeon to take on more cases.

Surgeons are now receiving extensive training in using these machines and, in some cases, those who do not adapt, could lose their positions.

Drawbacks of robotic surgery

  • High investment. Because of this high investment, not all medical institutions can afford to perform robotic surgery. Patients who want it may not be able to get robotic surgery because nearby hospitals do not have the facilities.
  • Harder to train older doctors. It may be easier for younger doctors to learn the process than the older ones but there are limited hospitals where they can learn and perform operations on humans for the experience.
  • The two schools of thought. Some surgeons believe strongly that it is the future of mankind and healthcare. Others see it as a technological advancement that will help reduce the cost of major operations.

Conclusion

After examining the arguments on both sides, it appears that the advantages of robotic surgery outweigh the disadvantages.

Robotic surgery is often the best option if it is available and recommended by the physician.

There is no doubt that robotic surgery is a game changer in medicine and will be a boon for many patients.

This article first appeared in The New Savvy.

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