What is robotic surgery?

As the name suggests, robotic surgery involves a machine and computer. The goal is for operations to be safer and more precise than surgery carried out by people alone. There are three types of surgical robotic systems:

  1. Human controlled robot systems. These systems include robots that are completely controlled by the surgeon who can sometimes be in a different place to the surgery (telesurgical robot). Other robots are integrated within handheld instruments and may, for example, warn the doctor when they are operating close to important parts of the body (handheld robot).

  2. A robot-assisted system helps the surgeon carry out specific tasks. Parts of the operation can be done better by a robot than a surgeon (for instance, because it is more precise, steady, or agile). This could be stitching wounds, inserting a needle into the brain, or inserting a screw to fix a broken bone. The surgeon is present and supervises the robot.

  3. In an autonomous robot system, the machine could complete surgery with little or no supervision from a human. This type of robot is not currently used to perform surgery.

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