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  • Ritwik Mishra


The title, however ludicrous, is genuinely a mark of how far we have come in the field of robotics. Specifically, the robots used in the field of medicine, namely, the ‘Da Vinci’ Surgical System, an incredibly advanced surgical system used in minimally invasive surgery. Recently, a video of a doctor peeling the skin off of a grape using the aforementioned system went viral, effectively performing “surgery” on the grape. The idea of robotics used for surgery began more than 50 years ago, but actual use began in the late 1980s with Robodoc (Integrated Surgical Systems, Sacramento, CA), the orthopaedic image-guided system developed by Hap Paul and William Bargar for use in prosthetic hip replacement.

The video reveals to the general public the advantages of robot-assisted surgery: its speed, efficiency as well as its accuracy. To condense the advantages: a robot-assisted surgery has greater surgical precision, increased range of motion, enhanced visualization (including areas that may be invisible to the naked eye) improved access to hard-to-reach areas and improved ability to spare healthy tissue not impacted by cancer from the doctor’s perspective. From the patient’s perspective, a more precise surgery implies significantly less pain, less blood loss, less risk of infection, earlier discharge from the hospital, decrease in recovery time as well as less scarring. Such advantages make robot-assisted surgery indispensable in modern times. The few possible disadvantages however are worth taking note of; there’s more than just the smile in the Mona Lisa. The repercussions of human error, in this case, could have disastrous consequences, and if operated incorrectly, could be fatal. The robot itself consists of electrical components that could short circuit and harm the patient. Even if such disadvantages are surpassed, there is always the tremendous cost that such a system comes with - the current cost of the da Vinci system is $ 1.2 million and annual maintenance is $ 138000.

In short, robot-assisted surgery is a huge breakthrough, its disadvantages notwithstanding. Not just Da Vinci, but Mako, Ion, Monarch and several other systems could potentially revolutionise surgery and medicine as a whole. Technology is the sort of thing that is going to impact every field, and as we can see, it’s going to be marvellous.

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