Using metallic assistants to increase surgical efficiency


Surgeries are more precise and the chance of malpractice is reducing all thanks to robotics.

For years, doctors have performed surgeries by hand. Then at the turn of the 21st-century, doctors welcomed new assistants– robots.

The robot’s goal, making operations more precise and to continue making what was once complicated even less complicated. 

“The robots have become better from the standpoint of their maneuverability,” Dr. Matthew Gettman, a professor of urology at the Mayo Clinic, said. “The robotic arms are becoming smaller, we’re trying to use new technologies such as bringing in imagining, trying to understand extra-sensory information so we can do safer operations for patients.”

In a profession where safety is paramount, Dr. Vineet Agrawal, a urologist at Guthrie Corning Hospital, knows the benefits of having his own iron-giant.

“We operate deep down in the pelvis where we operate on the bladder and the prostate. Those organs are quite difficult to reach with standard laparoscopy even if one was avoiding open surgery,” Agrawal said. “That’s where robotics allows you to really turn the instruments at an angle and the seven-degree freedom of movement is almost like having your hand inside, without having your hand inside.”

Agrawal said someone who undergoes an open surgery tends to stay an extra day or two longer in the hospital. Compared to someone who underwent a robotic surgery, they’re out the next day.

“I did two patients on Tuesday and they both went home yesterday,” Agrawal said.

Though the robots are getting more advanced, Gettman says they aren’t entirely flawless. 

“One limitation of the robot currently is that there’s no ability to feel the tissues when you do robotic surgery,” Gettman said. “In those particular situations where you need to touch the tissues or palpate the tissues, that’s would be where an open surgery would be beneficial.”

Both Gettman and Agrawal say robotic surgeries are covered through insurance, Medicare, anf even Medicaid. Just make sure to check with your provider before requesting any kind of operation.

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