History of Robotic Surgery

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Origins of Robotic Surgery

The first documented use of a robot-assisted surgical procedure occurred in 1985 when the PUMA 560 robotic surgical arm was used in a delicate neurosurgical biopsy, a non-laparoscopic surgery. The robotic system allowed for a successful robotic surgery and the potential for greater precision when used in minimally invasive surgeries, such as laparoscopies which typically utilize flexible fiber optic cameras. The 1985 robotic surgery lead to the first laparoscopic procedure involving a robotic system, a cholecystecotomy, in 1987. The following year the same PUMA system was used to perform a robotic surgery transurethral resection. In 1990 the AESOP system produced by Computer Motion became the first system approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for its endoscopic surgical procedure.

In 2000, the da Vinci Surgery System broke new ground by becoming the first robotic surgery system approved by the FDA for general laparoscopic surgery. This was the first time the FDA approved an all-encompassing system of surgical instruments and camera/scopic utensils. Its predecessors relied upon the use of endoscopes and numerous surgical assistants to perform surgery. The da Vinci robotic surgery system’s three dimensional magnification screen allows the surgeon to view the operative area with the clarity of high resolution. The one centimeter diameter surgical arms represent a significant advancement in robotic surgery from the early, large-armed systems such as the PUMA 560. With such miniaturized operating arms, the da Vinci robotic surgery system removes the need to leverage the sides of the incision walls. This advancement allows for less contact between exposed interior tissue and the surgical device, greatly reducing the risk of infection. The “Endo-wrist” features of the operating arms precisely replicate the skilled movements of the surgeon at the controls, improving accuracy in small operating spaces.

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