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When Robotic Surgery Leaves Just A Scratch

Mon, 11/19/2012 - 9:41am
Anne Eisenberg

Surgeons once made incisions large enough to get to a gallbladder or other organs by using conventional tools they held in their own hands. Today, many sit at a computer console instead, guiding robotic arms that enter the patient’s body through small openings not much larger than keyholes.

Intuitive Surgical’s new system requires only a single incision for its robotic arms and a camera to enter the body.

But even this minimally invasive surgery usually requires multiple incisions: one for the camera system showing the way to the surgeon at the console, and others for each of the robotic arms that do the cutting and stitching.

Now there are robotic systems — one on the market, others in development — that are even less intrusive. They require only a single, small incision through which the robotic arms and camera enter.

This could lead to faster recovery, said Dr. Michael Hsieh, a Stanford professor and a urologist at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital and Stanford Hospital.

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