Technology has changed a lot over the last couple decades, so that today operations include the use of robotic assistance to complete them. This kind of surgery is similar to remote work, but the surgeon is on the other side of the room from the patient. The robot includes a camera and the surgical tools, along with the robotic arm, and they follow the directions of the surgeon to complete the surgery on the patient. It is actually very similar to another form of technology that got started around the same time, laparoscopic surgeries. However, laparoscopic instruments are inserted in the patient, and the surgeon is working on the other end of the tool. Both forms of surgery have been around since the 1990s, so they are old enough to be a requirement in advanced training and some fellowship programs.
The benefit of robotic assistance is that the arms can be much smaller than human hands, allowing them to be less invasive. They are considered very beneficial for surgeries where there is inadequate space for human hands, such as operations for cancer in the neck and head. They can also be less painful since they can be less invasive.
This type of surgery has been around long enough to better pinpoint the potential complications. A recent study reviewed the robotically-assisted operations for 5,000 patients over several decades. Roughly 10% of the studies that comprised the overall study found that this type of surgery had reduced complications. The majority of the smaller studies indicated that there was little difference between robotic-assisted surgery and traditional surgery. Some of the studies even found that robotic assistance required more time to complete the surgery, which increases the amount of time needed to recover from the effects of anesthesia and greater risks of complications after the surgery, such as blood clots. Overall though, it doesn’t seem that there is a significant difference between robotic assistance and traditional surgeries.
The larger study did find that the regular use of robots during surgery does help surgeons who specialize in this type of operation to be able to reduce the amount of time they take for each surgery. They also have the chance to practice through simulations to better hone their skills. This means that they are able to keep practicing different types of surgery even if they don’t have any patients that need a particular procedure. This shows that the investment is still in the person, not the machine. Surgeons may improve their abilities through the use of robots, but those robots are nowhere near replacing surgeons as they are only as good as the person working them.
Though it may not be the news some people want to hear, there is good news with the finding. If you would like to check out the full article, you can read it at Robotic Surgery May Not Be Better Than Surgery by a Human: Study (https://www.forbes.com/sites/ninashapiro/2021/08/17/robotic-surgery-may-not-be-better-than-surgery-by-a-human-study/?sh=299640c039ae).