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Premature Robotic Surgery: Putting Patients and Professionals at Risk

Premature Robotic Surgery: Putting Patients and Professionals at Risk



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Published by Anthony Burdo
My views as a BioTechnology major at Rutgers...on Robotic Surgery and its current restrictions and limitations
My views as a BioTechnology major at Rutgers...on Robotic Surgery and its current restrictions and limitations

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Published by: Anthony Burdo on Apr 26, 2008
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Burdo 1Anthony BurdoProfessor L. HealeyResearch in DisciplinesDecember 11, 2007
Premature Robotic Surgery: Putting Patients and Professionals atRisk
Robotic Surgery has reached one of the highest peaks of interest forscientists, surgeons, and the general public today. The focus of muchacclaim and attention in the medical field, robotic surgery allows a surgeonfrom a console to operate on a patient via the use of a high-tech camera andarms which can be manipulated as needed. Current applications of thistechnology include advanced cardiac surgery, gastrointestinal surgery,gynecology, neurosurgery, orthopedics, pediatrics, and urology. Roboticsurgery, although already in use, raises controversy over the practicality,safety, and cost effectiveness of the technology, and whether or not it istruly the best option for the patient. With regard to improving patient careand providing the technology for healthcare professionals to do so, there aremany limitations and obstacles to overcome before robotic surgery systemsshould be integrated into the medical field. The future of robotic surgerytechnology promises to greatly improve upon current surgical methods andtechniques. At this time, however, robotic surgery is still a novel concept
Burdo 2and the availability of long-term results regarding the success of operativeprocedures is limited. Statistics show that such success may be hindered forseveral reasons. [Based on research, analysis, and case studies it can beconcluded that for the majority of procedures currently performed usingrobotic surgery, long term post-op success rates of patient outcomes are stillunclear, patients’ physical needs are not being adequately met, the roboticsurgery systems themselves are unsuitable for surgeons to use, manysurgeons are incapable of operating such technology, the costs to the patientand providing institution are exorbitantly high and unnecessary, theuncertainty with regard to litigation procedures and the violation of patientintegrity make robotic surgery technology an impractical resource for bothpatients and healthcare professionals alike,].With the introduction of robotic surgery techniques to the medical field,there have been a variety of case studies which analyze patient outcomesafter undergoing operative procedures. While the large majority of casesobserved that have utilized robotic surgery systems have been successful, itshould be noted that these studies have not monitored long term postoperative success rates. In a case study at the Innsbruck Medical Universityin Austria, only 5% of procedures utilizing the da Vinci
robot wereunsuccessful; however these patients experienced major bleeding andcollateral tissue damage by robotic instruments, there was a completesystem failure, and there were four reported post-op wound infections(Bodner 676). Similarly, a study of pediatric patients at St. James’s
Burdo 3University Hospital showed a 6% complication rate with regard to mechanicalfailures, faulty system signals, and malfunction of instruments (Najmaldin200). Johannes Bodner in,
The da Vinci Robotic System For General Surgical Applications: A Critical Interim Appraisal,
responds to one such case studyand explains that “various general surgical procedures have proved feasibleand safe when performed with the da Vinci
robot” (Bodner 674). However,these statistics for operative complications in robotic surgery compare to thenational average of 4% using conventional methods, and thus furtherchallenge the efficacy of robotic surgery techniques (Gazella). While thecause for concern may appear to be minimal, these studies blatantly suggestthat robotic surgery is not meeting patients’ physical needs. In fact, theobserved malfunctions, although infrequent, demonstrate the need forfurther research and improvement before robotic surgery can be utilized. Itis clear that these limitations must be resolved as the complications pose amajor threat to patient well being. While the rate of failure appears to beminimal, the unpredictable system malfunctions that occur in currentapplications of robotic surgery, and the effects thereof, put all patients whoutilize robotic surgery at an unnecessary risk.In comparison to conventional surgery methods, there are additionalshortcomings of robotic surgery which directly affect the patient. One issueof concern is the extensive operating time. The robotic systems aredesigned to work on small areas of the body; however, many proceduresrequire a surgeon to operate on two or more subdivisions of the body (Taylor

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