The IEEE Spectrum magazine states, “At the end of the day, the robot is just a fancier tool under direct human control.”
Reference 1 discusses automated scanning framework for probe-based confocal laser endomicroscopy (pCLE), which provides microscopic imaging during an endoscopic procedure, and Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) optical biopsy, a non-contact imaging modality, using the da Vinci surgical robot.
Surgical Robotic Systems are no longer a science fiction idea. These kind of systems, although still in their infancy, are able to enhance a human surgeon’s talent with more accurate and less invasive techniques. Early techniques were using endoscopic cameras and support instrumentation.
Surgical robotics were first used in the 1980s with minimally invasive laproscopic surgery that made small cuts instead of one large incision. The DaVinci Surgical System was the first FDA-approved tool to perform this kind of surgery. This system developed the ‘endo wrist’ which emulated a surgeon’s hand movement in the robot.
The DaVinci Surgical System (Image courtesy of Reference 3)
More recently, the Flex Robotic System was approved by the FDA for transoral head and neck surgery (See UPMC) This system has improved upon better visibility and range of motion for the surgeon. See the video below.
Stereo images captured by the camera are used for 3-D tissue-surface reconstruction via a stereo-matching method (Image courtesy of Reference 1)
1 From Macro to Micro, Lin Zhang, Menglong Ye, Petros Giataganas, Michael Hughes, Adrian Bradu, Adrian Podoleanu, and Guang-Zhong Yang, IEEE Robotics & Automation Magazine, June 2012
2 IEEE Technical Committee for Surgical Robotics, IEEE Robotics & Automation Society
4 IEEE Transmitter, Artificial Intelligence, Robots and the Operating Room, July 16, 2018