Institute of Minimal Access, Metabolic & Bariatric Surgery (iMAS) Sir Ganga Ram Hospital | New Delhi

Medical Director

Bhatia Global Hospital & Endosurgery InstitutePaschim Vihar | New Delhi
  • What is Robotic Surgery?
  • Why Robotic Surgery?
  • Procedures

What is Robotic Surgery?

Steven Spielberg once said, "There is no such thing as science fiction, only science eventually."

In this era of fast-paced technological advances and ever-growing human innovation, the time between science fiction and science is shorter than ever. One field that has truly seen the tremendous impact of these rapid advances is surgery, and more so, the field of robotic surgery.

Robotic Surgery is the use of robotics, high-definition imaging, computer-assisted simulation, and modeling for surgical procedures. It is performed in specially designed operating rooms (OR) equipped with a patient-side robotic cart, surgeon-side robotic console and various high-definition monitors.

Surgeons perform robotic surgical procedures on a specialized console, which provides a high quality three-dimensional image of the patient’s body. The surgeon controls the robot by maneuvering levers, pedals and buttons on the console with his arms, feet, fingers and wrists. The robot executes these commands through instruments attached to robotic arms on the patient-side robotic cart. Depending on the surgeon’s requirements, the instruments can be changed easily by a scrub nurse.

Should any errors occur during the surgery, robotic systems are constructed to be fault-tolerant. One built-in safety feature is called “graceful degradation.” If one component begins to fail, the system slowly compensates or degrades to a lower level of performance rather than suddenly quitting or causing an erratic motion. In such a case, the system permits the surgeon to take over and complete the procedure with conventional surgical techniques.

With Robotic Surgery, physicians can offer standard-of-care treatment with the potential for outcomes that are better than conventional surgery – and with the potential benefits of a minimally invasive procedure.

How It All Began

Surgical robotics has greatly evolved since it first came into existence in 1985 with the Puma 560, a robot used to perform neurosurgical biopsies with greater precision. This system eventually led to the development of PROBOT, a robot designed specifically for transurethral resection of the prostate.

In 1992, the FDA approved a new surgical robot, ROBODOC, for the first time in its history. ROBODOC was designed to mill out precise fittings in the femur for hip replacement surgery. By this time, surgeons had begun to accept the increased precision robotics could bring into surgery.

In 1999, Intuitive Surgical Inc. further developed robotic systems with the introduction of the da VinciSurgical System. While initial work was funded by the U.S. Army in the interest of developing a remote battlefield surgical system, possible commercial applications were even more attractive since this technology could be used to promote the practice of minimally invasive surgery.

Robotic Surgery Today

The da Vinci Si HD system, a sequel to the da Vinci system, is the most commonly used robotic system for surgery. The system is FDA approved for a variety of surgical procedures, including those that are urologic, gynecologic, and thoracoscopic. Placed in over 800 hospitals and academic institutions in the United States and Europe, the da Vinci System was used in over 48,000 procedures in 2006 alone. The da Vinci prostatectomy procedure is currently the fastest-growing treatment for prostate cancer, which is the second leading cause of cancer-related death in men. 

Surgeons with wide-ranging levels of expertise (from novice to expert) are now taking advantage of the da Vinci System in learning, performing, and teaching challenging surgical procedures.