A surgical robot is a computer controlled device that can be programmed to aid the positioning and manipulation of surgical instruments. Surgical robots are typically used in laparoscopic rather than open surgical approaches. Conventional and robotic laparoscopy share similar advantages over open surgery, including decreased morbidity, rapid recovery and improved aesthetics of incisions. Robotic surgery requires large investments in time and money for equipment and training of health professionals.
Advantages of robotic assisted over conventional laparoscopy include:61, 62
- superior visualisation - 3D versus 2D imaging of the operative field
- stabilisation of instruments within the surgical field - in conventional laparoscopy, small movements by the surgeon are amplified
- improved ergonomics for the operating surgeon
- mechanical improvements.
Limitations of robotic assisted over conventional laparoscopy include:61, 62
- additional surgical training and accreditation
- increased costs and operating theatre time
- costs of instruments and equipment
- bulkiness of devices
- risk of mechanical failure
- not designed for abdominal surgery involving more than one quadrant
- training and cost of dedicated staff including a robotics nurse and instrument nurse
- lack of outcome data.