A Revolutionary Tale of The Development of Surgical Robots


Hi all. My name is Talha Chaudhry, and I will be enlightening you all on a new form of technology that will actually make a difference.Before we begin, Take a break and listen to the sound of your own beating heart. The sound of one’s own heart is something that everyone has memorized. How far would you go to keep that heart beating? This is a question everyone should ask himself or herself. No one can predict when they might be in a life threatening situation, god forbid.

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Now that I’ve gotten you all thinking, I’d like to ask you that if you found yourself in a severe situation, would you put your life in the hands of a robot? Now, anyone who has watched any of the terminator movies would almost immediately say no. Actually, most people would say no anyway. This is because robotic surgery has only just been born, no one knows about it. Once it really gets going, it will change the world as we know it. Not like skynet, but you know what I mean.

Anyway, skynet, I mean robotic surgery, is not robotic at all. It’s actually just a machine that’s being operated by a doctor. I guess it’s just called robotic surgery because it sounds cool. Eventually, doctors all around the world will be trained in the art of robotic surgery, and once that happens, we won’t have to worry about the doctors, just the perfection of the machine. I wont speak too much on this because this is a whole other topic. If you would like more information on the doctors, side of things versus the machine, you can read my blog post.

Nowadays, all of us have smart phones. We take them for granted, but we don’t really know how much work went into making them how they are. Think back to when you were just a child. Or if you are currently a child, ask your parents about the development of cell phones. 10 years ago, which is not that long ago actually, there were no smart phones, everyone had a flip phones or one of those really old looking nokias. In the beginning, phones sucked, they only had one use, and that was to make crappy phone calls. Now you might be asking how this has anything to do with Robotic surgery. Just bear with me, because it will all make sense soon enough. I just want you to think about how far we have come with the development of our phones. Sim cards are now 50 times smaller than they were back then. Robotic surgery is much like the cell phone. It has just been born. Who knows what it could evolve into? In an article by dr. Anthony Lanfranco called “Robotic Surgery: a current perspective,” Dr Lanfranco talks about how robotic surgery is at it’s youth, and that it still has a long way to go, but as it develops, it will always be getting more efficient.

More specifically, the surgical machines will become faster, lighter, more agile. They will look less like a hunk of junk, and more like something from the future, much like phones. Dr Jochen Binder wrote an article on this called “robotic surgery in urology: fact or fantasy?” In his article, he talks about how robotic surgery still has a long way to go. However, there is much room for improvement, and when there is room for improvement, there will always be someone who will step up and improve. Companies looking to invest in it will start appearing, and robotic surgery will grow.

The problem with robotic surgery is that no one really knows about it. It has so much potential for success but only if more people know about it. It requires investments, so that it can have the proper funding. Without that, this up and coming medical revolution will fail before it even really begins.

If anyone has ever watched Elysium, the Matt Damon film that came out a little while back, then you’ll remember those awesome medical stations that they had on Elysium. The one’s that could cure anything. Now, I know that it’s just a movie, and I can’t really compare it to the real world, but how awesome would it be if we could refine surgical machines to the point where the would be able to mold themselves to fit any type of surgical situation? The word “surgery” is very broad. It entails hundreds of different types of surgeries, and no type of surgery is the same. Even in the same type of surgery, there are always varying circumstances. Imagine a machine that was smart enough to be able to tackle every type of surgery, a machine that could contemplate the circumstances of the surgery and perform what was best for the patient. By now you all might be thinking this is impossible. I assure you, it is not. Given the advanced technology we have today, this is not a dream, it is actually something that can happen, not soon, but it is possible.

According to Stanford professors and doctors David Camarillo, Thomas Krummel, and Kenneth Salisbury, the future will bring us smaller, lighter, and easier to use mechanical surgical units. Now, this is not something to be taken lightly. The current leading surgical robot is a huge torture machine looking thing. It is connected to another huge computer that the surgeon uses to operate. The fact that the machine is immovable sucks, because that means that anyone in need of it will have to be at a certain place at a certain time, and that is just too much work for someone who would need the machine in the first place. If the machine became portable, it could help save more lives because everyone would have access to it.

The main concern about robotic surgery is whether or not it is safe. I think the answer to that question is an easy one. Yes, it is. In fact, it is safer and more efficient than getting operated on by a surgeon. The reason for this is that although surgeons practice day and night keeping their hands steady, no human can be completely and perfectly still. A machine can. All of those super precise cuts that are required by the surgeon are made simple though the robots arm. So much pressure is off of the surgeon’s chest as well, so it isn’t just about the patient. According to a study done by renowned Doctor Pier Cristoforo Giulianotti, statistics show that robotic surgery is efficient when used in real surgical situations. However, Doctor Giulianotti states in his report that only time will tell how robotic surgery will evolve and be refined.

My grandmother requires surgery on her spine. The surgery is a 5-7 hour long endeavour, which is a very long and risky surgery. Also, she has to go all the way to thunder bay for her surgery, because that is where her surgeon is. Here are multiple times where robotic surgery can be of good use. First of all, the surgery my grandmother requires is a very big one. Spinal surgeries are always tough. They include many precise cuts and difficult incisions. Most of that worry would disappear if a machine were operating on her, because a machine would not make a mistake. I mean it’s not like the terminator is operating on my grandmother, it’s just a machine being controlled by a skilled surgeon. In a report done by Henk Schreuder and Dr Verheijen, several plus points are made to prove how much better robotic surgery is. One main thing is that the experience is made much easier for the surgeon, because cameras implanted on the robot help the surgeon see everything withut risking the health of the patient.Also, through robotic surgery, surgeons can now operate on a patient from the other side of the world. Transatlantic surgery has been made possible. This saves time and money. My whole family would not have to travel all the way to thunder bay to get surgery done, and soon this is going to be an option for everyone.

Not only is robotic surgery convenient for everyone but it creates new jobs. That is a huge plus given our shitty economy.Engineers will become a bigger part of the medical community, always around for a surgery incase the machine needs fixing or something.

So there you have it. Everything you need to know about robotic surgery. Who knows? Maybe my fellow students here at york university will find a job in the up and coming robotic surgery industry. It’s very possible. Maybe my younger brother who wants to be a surgeon will grow up and use surgical machines. Humanity is capable of anything, and I genuinely believe that we will turn robotic surgery into something great. Thank you for listening to my podcast, and I really hope that you will all

Lanfranco, Anthony R., et al. "Robotic surgery: a current perspective." Annals of surgery 239.1 (2004): 14.

Binder, Jochen, et al. "Robotic surgery in urology: fact or fantasy?." BJU international 94.8 (2004): 1183-1187.

Lendvay, Thomas Sean, Blake Hannaford, and Richard M. Satava. "Future of robotic surgery." The Cancer Journal 19.2 (2013): 109-119.

Camarillo, David B., Thomas M. Krummel, and J. Kenneth Salisbury. "Robotic technology in surgery: past, present, and future." The American Journal of Surgery 188.4 (2004): 2-15.

Giulianotti, Pier Cristoforo, et al. "Robotics in general surgery: personal experience in a large community hospital." Archives of surgery 138.7 (2003): 777-784.

Bodner, J., et al. "First experiences with the da Vinci™ operating robot in thoracic surgery." European Journal of Cardio-thoracic surgery 25.5 (2004): 844-851.

 Schreuder, H. W. R., and R. H. M. Verheijen. "Robotic surgery." BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics & Gynaecology 116.2 (2009): 198-213.