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Extra, extra! Read all about it – EETimes Digital Edition on Robotics March 30, 2010

Posted by emiliekopp in industry robot spotlight.
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The newest digital edition of EETimes has just been released and is chock-full of interesting articles focused specifically on the current robotics landscape. From military to medical and everywhere in between, check out what’s going on in robotics today:


Why robotic surgery is the shiz January 7, 2009

Posted by emiliekopp in industry robot spotlight.
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St. Joseph’s Health System in Atlanta, GA, just announced it’s launching a non-profit training program called the International College of Robotic Surgery (ICRS) to train robotic surgical teams from around the world. The program features robust training on “all daVinci Surgical System robotic surgery specialties, beginning with intraccardiac and cardia revascularization, including TECAB.”

The daVinci Robot, for those who may be unfamiliar, is a highly-complex system of high-precisision manipulators that perform surgical tasks (i.e. cutting tissue, tying sutures, sewing stiches) inside your body. In the meantime, these slave manipulators are being controlled by a surgeon sitting 5 feet away from the patient at a master console.


Why is the daVinci Robot so cool?

First off, laproscopic (non-invasive) surgery is the way to go these days. Rather than splitting a dude open like a watermelon, a couple of small incisions can be made (the size of a dime) where several tiny end-effectors are inserted to perform surgical tasks. This is safer, cleaner, and alleviates a tremendous amount of trauma and recovery-time for the patient. Here’s what I mean:

Let’s say two 8-year-old boys are playing around with their new BB guns (they are sure they will not shoot their eye’s out). However, one boy accidentally shoots his best friend in the chest and the BB has entered his chest cavity. Now, the kid isn’t going to just drop dead right there; he’s probably still conscious and can even walk around. But the BB certainly must be removed.

Before the daVinci robot, an anesthesiologist would have to put the kid under. Then, a surgeon would have to make an incision at the top of the child’s torso all the way down to below his navel. He would have to pry open the rib cage, remove the foreign material, and fuse the kid back up. The 8-year old kid now has to spend 2 weeks in the hosiptial, doped with pain killers, under supervision to make sure he is not at risk of infection. It will be 5 months before he can run around the backyard again. He’s got a wicked scar that will stick around for the rest of his life. All because of a stupid little BB.

Let’s replay the same scenario, with the daVinci robot:

The boy is put-under by the anesthesiologist and the daVinci robot is wheeled in (you have to wait until the patient is completely out before you wheel it in; can you imagine trying to fall asleep with 15 robotic arms hovering over you?). Four small incisions are made and the surgeon uses a tiny fiber optic camera at the tip of one of the end effectors to locate position of the BB. The feed from the camera is being broadcasted into the large operating console, where the surgeon sits, as though he is watching a nickelodeon. His hands (and feet) are guiding and commanding the position of the daVinci robot manipulators, using a series of knobs, buttons, pedals and levers.

He selects a different manipulator, one with tiny pinchers at the tip. He guides this one in, grasps the BB and pulls it out. The four tiny incisions are patched up. The young boy leaves the hosptial the next day. There is little, to no scarring. He is running around and climbing trees again within a week.

I don’t mean to get sappy, but it’s just plain cool. These robots are performing all sorts of operations. Coronary bypasses, hysterectomies, patching up kidneys and bladders… My dad will most likely meet the daVinci robot when it removes cancerous tissue from his prostate (I love you, Dad).

So I’m psyched to see that robotic surgery is becoming more pervasive and that surgeons from around the world will travel to robotic-surgery-capitals like Atlanta and Houston to train on the daVinci robot. The daVinci robot is one of my favorite robot friends.


Well, two updates, actually.

#1: My dad has been cancer-free for over a year now.

#2: Here’s a really awesome video demonstrating the finesse of a surgeon operating the daVinci robot:

(thanks to Automaton Blog for finding the video)