The robot is called Da Vinci
and was put together at a cost of $1.6 million. The first use of the device was at New Cross Hospital in Wolverhampton, United Kingdom, where the robotic device assisted surgeons in a tricky procedure.
The robot was the latest in a generation of Da Vinci devices
. The da Vinci Surgical System comprises three components: a surgeon’s console, a patient-side robotic cart with 4 arms manipulated by the surgeon (one to control the camera and three to manipulate instruments), and a high-definition 3D vision system.
This procedure was a successful operation where, a young woman called Natalie Jones had a small, 1.3 inch hole in her heart repaired. The procedure is difficult to perform due to the very small and precise incision required. It can also be performed very quickly. According to The Scientist
, the robot can move 1 mm for every 3 mm that the doctors can move their hands.
Normal heart surgery involves cutting open the breast plate, but the robotic arms are inserted by making incision between the patient`s ribs.
Although a few countries around the world have used 'robotic' devices to help with surgery, notably Finland, Sweden and the U.S., the Da Vinci device is the most advanced. The use of the robot also represented the first ever use of a robot in heart surgery in the U.K.
The surgery with the aid of Da Vinci was co-ordinated by surgeon Stephen Billing. Billing told the BBC
“There is less pain and patients are able to return home to their normal activities far sooner. I accept money is tight within the NHS [National Health Service], but we can't be left behind by the rest of the world in developing what we are doing in surgery and other aspects of health care."
Whilst the cost is currently high, the use of robots in surgery probably signals the future direction of medical science.