Robotic Surgery: A Current Perspective

Anthony R. Lanfranco, BAS; Andres E. Castellanos, MD; Jaydev P. Desai, PhD; William C. Meyers, MD


Annals of Surgery. 2004;239(1) 

In This Article

Current Robotic Surgical Systems

Today, many robots and robot enhancements are being researched and developed. Schurr et al at Eberhard Karls University's section for minimally invasive surgery have developed a master-slave manipulator system that they call ARTEMIS.[13] This system consists of 2 robotic arms that are controlled by a surgeon at a control console. Dario et al at the MiTech laboratory of Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna in Italy have developed a prototype miniature robotic system for computer-enhanced colonoscopy.[14] This system provides the same functions as conventional colonoscopy systems but it does so with an inchworm-like locomotion using vacuum suction. By allowing the endoscopist to teleoperate or directly supervise this endoscope and with the functional integration of endoscopic tools, they believe this system is not only feasible but may expand the applications of endoluminal diagnosis and surgery. Several other laboratories, including the authors', are designing and developing systems and models for reality-based haptic feedback in minimally invasive surgery and also combining visual servoing with haptic feedback for robot-assisted surgery.[15,16,17,18,19]

In addition to Prodoc, ROBODOC and the systems mentioned above several other robotic systems have been commercially developed and approved by the FDA for general surgical use. These include the AESOP system (Computer Motion Inc., Santa Barbara, CA), a voice-activated robotic endoscope, and the comprehensive master-slave surgical robotic systems, Da Vinci (Intuitive Surgical Inc., Mountain View, CA) and Zeus (Computer Motion Inc., Santa Barbara, CA).

The da Vinci and Zeus systems are similar in their capabilities but different in their approaches to robotic surgery. Both systems are comprehensive master-slave surgical robots with multiple arms operated remotely from a console with video assisted visualization and computer enhancement. In the da Vinci system (Fig. 1), which evolved from the telepresence machines developed for NASA and the US Army, there are essentially 3 components: a vision cart that holds a dual light source and dual 3-chip cameras, a master console where the operating surgeon sits, and a moveable cart, where 2 instrument arms and the camera arm are mounted.[1] The camera arm contains dual cameras and the image generated is 3-dimensional. The master console consists of an image processing computer that generates a true 3-dimensional image with depth of field; the view port where the surgeon views the image; foot pedals to control electrocautery, camera focus, instrument/camera arm clutches, and master control grips that drive the servant robotic arms at the patient's side.[6] The instruments are cable driven and provide 7 degrees of freedom. This system displays its 3-dimensional image above the hands of the surgeon so that it gives the surgeon the illusion that the tips of the instruments are an extension of the control grips, thus giving the impression of being at the surgical site.

Da Vinci system set up. (Courtesy of Intuitive Surgical Inc., Mountain View, CA)

The Zeus system is composed of a surgeon control console and 3 table-mounted robotic arms (Fig. 2). The right and left robotic arms replicate the arms of the surgeon, and the third arm is an AESOP voice-controlled robotic endoscope for visualization. In the Zeus system, the surgeon is seated comfortably upright with the video monitor and instrument handles positioned ergonomically to maximize dexterity and allow complete visualization of the OR environment. The system uses both straight shafted endoscopic instruments similar to conventional endoscopic instruments and jointed instruments with articulating end-effectors and 7 degrees of freedom.

Zeus system set up. (Courtesy of Computer Motion Inc., Santa Barbara, CA)