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Robotic surgery. BJS 2015; 102.

Published: 27th January 2015

Authors: M. Diana, J. Marescaux

Background

Proficiency in minimally invasive surgery requires intensive and continuous training, as it is technically challenging for unnatural visual and haptic perceptions. Robotic and computer sciences are producing innovations to augment the surgeon's skills to achieve accuracy and high precision during complex surgery. This article reviews the current use of robotically assisted surgery, focusing on technology as well as main applications in digestive surgery, and future perspectives.

Method

The PubMed database was interrogated to retrieve evidence‐based data on surgical applications. Internal and external consulting with key opinion leaders, renowned robotics laboratories and robotic platform manufacturers was used to produce state‐of‐the art business intelligence around robotically assisted surgery.

Results

Selected digestive procedures (oesophagectomy, gastric bypass, pancreatic and liver resections, rectal resection for cancer) might benefit from robotic assistance, although the current level of evidence is insufficient to support widespread adoption. The surgical robotic market is growing, and a variety of projects have recently been launched at both academic and corporate levels to develop lightweight, miniaturized surgical robotic prototypes.

Conclusion

The magnified view, and improved ergonomics and dexterity offered by robotic platforms, might facilitate the uptake of minimally invasive procedures. Image guidance to complement robotically assisted procedures, through the concepts of augmented reality, could well represent a major revolution to increase safety and deal with difficulties associated with the new minimally invasive approaches.

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