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Robots Not Likely to Replace Skilled Surgeons Anytime Soon

It is predicted that artificial intelligence (AI) may one day replace clinicians — doctors who meet with patients, evaluate them, make a diagnosis, order lab tests and prescribe medicine. Why? Computers and robots are being developed to gather information and to read lab results and radiology scans faster, better and cheaper than human physicians or lab technicians. Human surgeons, however, are unlikely to be replaced by robots in the near or distant future.

Artificial Intelligence Cannot Perform Robotic Surgery Without Human Surgeons

The number of robotic-assisted surgeries performed has increased considerably in recent years as robotic surgical technology has advanced and more surgeons have received specialized training in using robotic equipment. In the hands of expert surgeons, robotic-assisted procedures can deliver excellent benefits for patients, but the “robots” used for these minimally invasive surgeries are unlikely to replace the physicians who perform them.

As Milton Packer, MD, stated in a recent blog post for MedPage Today, “It seems unlikely that robots will be able to do unassisted surgery or perform invasive diagnostic tests or treatments on their own.”

So, while artificial intelligence can be programmed to greet patients or ask about symptoms, and while innovations in surgical robotics continue to advance, our surgeons are predicted to continue providing that human touch…with assistance from robotic surgical platforms.

Medical Experts Consider the Future of Robotic Hernia Repair

According to an article in the January 2019 issue of General Surgery News, the adoption of robotic surgery for hernia repair is predicted to increase as emerging technologies make it more accessible, affordable and user-friendly. Still, it must be emphasized that although the robotic surgical platforms available today are beautifully engineered, they are not truly robots.

“They are electromechanical systems, forerunners in the evolution of robotic surgery,” said Amir Szold, MD, medical director of Assia Medical Group, during a presentation at the 2018 International Symposium on Abdominal Wall Robotic Repair.

Dr. Szold predicts that 10 years from now, surgeons performing robotic-assisted hernia repairs will still be guiding the robotic systems as they do today. The difference will be that future generations of robotic equipment, such as the da Vinci Surgical System from Intuitive Surgical, may be able to provide more “cloud-based” data to help surgeons perform even more complex procedures.

Innovations in robotic surgical technology have driven both the quality of robotic hernia repairs, and the quantity. 

“In six short years, Intuitive has captured 27% of the U.S. addressable hernia market, whereas laparoscopic straight stick, which has been around for close to 30 years already, stalled at 20% to 25%,” said Conrad Ballecer, MD, an Arizona-based specialist in minimally invasive surgery.

Robotic Surgery Platforms Continue to Advance 

Developments in robotics are poised to improve surgical approaches in other medical specialties as well. Many medical equipment companies are developing instruments to fill the gap between robotic platforms and older laparoscopic instruments. Some companies are expanding on the currently available features of their robotic systems to deliver next-generation models, such as the da Vinci Xi™ from Intuitive, offering enhanced 3D vision and even better dexterity, stability and precision for the surgeons using the equipment.

The benefits of complex robotic surgical systems have delivered advantages to surgeons and their patients in a relatively short amount of time. Once viewed as a passing fad, robotic-assisted surgery continues to gain ground across the United States, Europe, Australia, and South America. For physicians working at facilities like miVIP Surgery Centers, which specialize in offering minimally invasive robotics to optimize outcomes for patients, it will be interesting to see what unfolds in the robotics market over the next few years!

This is curated content that is provided to readers of miVIP Surgery Centers as part of miVIP’s Healthy Living Recommendations. For more information, please read the original articles on GeneralSurgeryNews.com and MedPageToday.com.

More about miVIP Surgery Centers

miVIP is a network of state-of-the-art outpatient surgery centers providing leadership in minimally invasive surgery. Surgeons at miVIP perform procedures in multiple specialties, including Bariatrics, Gastroenterology, General Surgery, Gynecology, Ear-Nose-Throat/ENT, Orthopedics, Podiatry, Spine Health, and Urology. miVIP facilities are equipped with the latest in robotics and other innovative technologies, and meet or exceed national assurance standards for safety and quality. Please visit mivip.com.

Edited by Christa S. Nuber, miVIP Surgery Centers
Image Credits: iStock Photos, PhonlamaiPhoto

PUBLISHED 1 Feb, 2019

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