Robotic laparoscopy is a surgical technique in which robotics are used to aid the work of the surgeon. Though the name may suggest that robots are performing the laparoscopy, the surgery is still performed by the surgeon and is only aided by robotic systems. This is a relatively new technology for laparoscopic surgery, which is increasingly used in a variety of surgeries. There are some concerns about robotic laparoscopy, but it is generally considered to be useful and effective.
In laparoscopic surgery, one or more small incisions are made in the skin, and the laparoscope, the camera which allows the surgeon to see inside the body, is inserted along with the surgical instruments. The patient will usually be under general anesthesia, rendered unconscious and unable to feel pain. This kind of surgery requires less healing time than conventional surgery and usually involves less bleeding. In robotic laparoscopy, robotics hold instruments, cut, and stitch under the direction of the surgeon. The specific actions of the robotics vary widely and depend on the particular machine used.
There are several advantages to robotic laparoscopy. Machines do not tire of holding a surgical instrument in one position for a long time or of making the same movement over and over, and do not shake as human hands can. Robots can make incredibly tiny and precise movements, and can be adjusted by minuscule amounts. If the system is set up and managed properly, this should make surgery safer for patients. Robotics should also make surgery cheaper, since fewer people will be required in the operating room.
Robotic laparoscopy is not perfect, however, and machine malfunction is a concern. Surgeons must also learn to use it effectively, which is a time-consuming process for already busy doctors. Some surgeons will resist change and resent having to learn how to use the robotics, which can cause conflicts in the medical team. Surgery must have a degree of flexibility and adaptability, since the human body is much more variable than any machine. The judgment, skill level, and experience of the surgeon is still critically important for a successful surgery.
A variety of different surgeries are already performed using robotic laparoscopy, such as hernia repair and gynecological surgery. It is expected that this technology will develop further and become more integral to laparoscopic surgery. New surgeons will be trained in robotic laparoscopy from the start of their careers, and so they will be more comfortable with it than surgeons who have been performing surgery without robotics for many years.