From The Ergoweb® Learning Center

Robots Strive to Improve Surgical Ergonomics

People being operated on by robots? It’s not the plot of a sci-fi thriller; instead, it’s a reality that could help improve hospital ergonomics.

According to an AP report earlier this month, systems like the operating robot deemed “da Vinci” are quickly becoming commonplace in the operating room, offering patients a shorter surgery and doctors a simpler, but still accurate, execution of a task.

It adds up to improved surgical ergonomics, said Dr. Joseph Wagner, attending surgeon in urological oncology at the Hartford Hospital and the person manning that hospital’s robot, the first one being put to use in Connecticut. Previously, said Wagner, when a prostate was removed, the surgeon used a laparoscope and a two-dimensional image on a screen. The image appeared backwards, hand-eye coordination was difficult and laparoscopic tools didn’t have the ability to mimic the human wrist’s flexibility. In addition, noted Wagner, the laparoscopic surgery could take four to five hours; sometimes; the surgeon’s wrist would shake slightly after just the first few hours.

“The real advantage is to the surgeon because it’s so much more comfortable for me to perform the surgery,” Wagner told the Associated Press.

With the robot, the surgeon uses joysticks to control robot hands that maneuver surgical tools. The patient and doctor spend less time in surgery, making the experience more positive for everyone. And the surgery offers the added bonus of decreased recovery time for the patient.

Originally, the da Vinci was developed as an attempt to create a remote control surgical system for the military. Currently, however, over 192 of the robots are working with surgeons in hospital operating rooms, primarily in North America.

Source: Associated Press