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How Surgical Robots are Revolutionizing the Landscape of Healthcare Sector?

How Surgical Robots are Revolutionizing the Landscape of Healthcare Sector?

ICT | Feb, 2021

From managing monotonous and repetitive tasks to conducting complex surgeries, robotics is shaping the healthcare industry in a lot of fundamental ways. Because of their ability to do anything with their full potential, robots are becoming an instrumental part of the medical field. Surgical robotics are paving a way for a brighter future with immense medical possibilities providing precise patient care and understanding the risk of complications. Offering minimally invasive surgery and accurate surgical operations, surgical robots allow surgeons to operate with extreme precision even on the area that may seem difficult or impossible to reach with the human hand. State-of-the-art surgical technologies result in smaller incisions, reduced pain and scarring, less downtime and quicker recovery times.

How does Robot-Assisted Surgery Work?

In a robot-assisted surgery, the surgeon makes use of computer-controlled surgical robots to do what humans cannot, or what they can do, but better. A robot’s arm is incrementally thinner which provides a high level of dexterity for maneuvering in tight places within the body. Incorporating mechanical elements with feedback-controlled motions to surgery can result in smoother results and reduced tissue trauma. A robot-assisted surgical process involves a surgeon sitting at a special console with hand and foot control to precisely and remotely control the surgical instruments attached to the robotic arms. A small 3D camera might be inserted into the patient to get a magnified 360-degree view of the operative field on a high-definition monitor. A second surgeon is also positioned near the patient to check the correct placement and function of the surgical instruments. 

Application of Surgical Robots

Many people have not fully realized the potential of surgical robots as the technology is not yet widely available and training is still not accessible. But here are some of the main applications of surgical robots.

Pelvic Surgery

The surgical robots provide great mobility of surgical instruments as they are capable to rotate from 180 degree to 540 degree, which allows better performance in the pelvic cavity and even better results in the quality of oncological resection with clearer margins, high number of lymph node resection and decrement of surgical complications. Precise dissections present fewer complications related to erectile dysfunction in the post-op of total mesorectum resection in rectal cancer surgery.

Gynaecology

With improvements in the surgeon’s ergonomics and precise movements due to trembling corrections, 3D vision, and movement accuracy, surgical robots ensure minimally invasive method for the treatment of malignant gynaecologic lesions. With surgical robots, the bleeding volume reduces, ranging from 50-1500 millilitres and operation time reduces, ranging from 4.5 to 10 hours. Surgical robots are also considered best option for myomectomy, hysterectomy, and deep endometriosis. Shorter hospitalization stays, less postoperative pain and better lymph node dissections are some of the other advantages of using surgical robots compared to open surgery.

Cardiothoracic Surgery

In lung resection, the use of surgical robots has helped to overcome the difficulties associated with thoracic surgery due to the presence of robot arms in the surgical field, avoiding the inconvenience of collisions in tight spaces. Three-dimensional vision on high-definition monitors adds to the procedure with more accurate resections and free margins. The same type of benefits can be found with cardiovascular surgery such as valve replacements, where the accuracy of movements, improvement of image quality, minor camera movements compared to those made by human hand can significantly reduce surgical time and maximize concentration on the procedure.

Kidney Surgery

Kidney is a vital organ that may become damaged due to medical conditions like diabetes, cancer, cysts, or physical injuries. Radical nephrectomy, a traditional open surgery for kidney requires at least six-to-eight inches long incision, which could result in scarring, more recovery time, and other complications. With robot-assisted laparoscopic surgery, the surgery can be made minimally invasive and the small incisions can result in less blood loss and quick recovery time.

Gall-bladder Surgery

Cholecystectomy is a surgical procedure to remove gall bladders. With surgical devices, the surgery can be made minimally invasive as it allows only one small incision in the navel. Therefore, many surgeons consider robot-assisted Cholecystectomy better than a conventional gallbladder surgery as it results in less trauma to the body. The additional robot arm simplifies the procedure as it provides stable and precise motion with high degree of freedom.

Radiosurgery for Tumours

Surgical robots can be utilized for providing effective treatment to people suffering from diseases such as trigeminal neuralgia and prostate cancer. Robot-assisted laparoscopic surgery and robotic gastrectomy surgeries are considered better alternative than open gastrectomy for the treatment of gastric cancer due to less blood loss and short hospital stays.

Orthopaedic Surgery

Surgical robot technology can be used in multiple orthopaedic sub-specialities such as spine, total joint arthroplasty, trauma, shoulder, and foot and ankle. Some of the benefits of using surgical robots in orthopaedics include the possibility of improving implant placements, performing remote surgery, accessing certain anatomic areas, reducing complications, and decreasing fluoroscopy use.

According to TechSci Research report, Global Surgical Robots Market By Component (Systems, Instruments and Accessories, Services), By Mechanism of Control (Computer Control, Direct Tele manipulator), By Application (Orthopedic Surgery, Endometriosis, General Surgery, Neurosurgery, Thoracic Surgery, Colorectal Surgery, Gynaecology, Heart Surgery, Urologic Surgery and Others), By End User (Hospitals & Clinics and Ambulatory Surgical Centres), By Region, Competition, Forecast & Opportunities, 2025”, the global surgical robots market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 15% during the forecast period to reach USD 13 billion by 2025. The global surgical robot market is driven by the growing occurrences of degenerative and chronic diseases such as diabetes, CVD, among others. Additionally, associated benefits of surgical robots from both surgeons and patients’ perspectives are anticipated to propel the growth of market over the next five years. Furthermore, technological innovations & advancements and new product launches by the major manufacturers such as introduction of flexible and cost-effective robots are expected to foster the growth of market until 2025.

Machine Learning in Surgical Robots

From addressing multiple points along the surgical spectrum to clinical data management, potential applications of machine learning in healthcare robotic technology are diverse. 

Automation of Suturing

Suturing is one of the key factors limiting the use of laparoscopy among surgeons due to the length of surgical procedures and surgeon fatigue. Automation of suturing can potentially help to reduce the length of surgical procedures, significantly in remote or telesurgery, where any lag between human commands and robot responses can present complications. The robotic surgical system integrates 3D computer imaging and sensors to guide the robot through the suturing process. Automated suturing provides better results to standard surgical performance, reducing operation errors and improving patient outcomes.

Machine Learning for Evaluation of Surgical Skills

With more prevalent use of robotic technology in surgeries, researchers are exploring automated methods of measuring surgical techniques, which has traditionally remained a subjective practice and often conducted by other trained surgeons. The machine learning algorithm was developed to evaluate surgeon performance in robot-assisted minimally invasive surgery to measure features such as completion time, path length, depth penetration, speed, smoothness, and curvature. The integration of machine learning in surgical robots offers the possibility of more standardized evaluation methods, reportedly identifying surgical skills precisely.

Machine Learning for Improved Surgical Robotics

Certain complex surgeries like neurosurgery requires extremely sensitive maneuvering with precise hands. With open or laparoscopic surgery, there is a possibility that the surgeon’s hands might shake during the procedure or stitching, which may lead to life-changing consequences for the patient or even death. If such surgeries are performed with trained robots, there is a reduced risk of human error as automation works particularly well for routine processes. Sometimes, the unpredictability of surgical environment may negatively impact the reliability of continuum robots. Therefore, machine learning is a great tool to explore ways to help the robots navigate in a more complex environment.

Rise of Surgical Robots during COVID-19

Cancellation of elective surgeries to mitigate pathogen spread and protect healthcare workers posed a substantial burden on patients and resulted in huge economic loss for various hospitals. Integrating robot as a shielding layer, physically separating the patients and healthcare workers helped to combat the omnipresent fear of pathogen contamination and maintain surgical volumes. Robots mimic hand and arm movements conducted by human at a safe distance, reducing health risks for vulnerable workers. A robot equipped with a camera, microphone and stethoscope allows remote operation and require less staff in the operating room as compared to traditional open surgery, which further reduces the risk of contamination. Thus, the surgical robots have been successful in minimizing infectious spread through contactless surgery with remote supervision. The implementation of surgical robots in the healthcare environment can harbour clinical benefits by assisting surgeon to improve surgical safety and make the procedure more efficient, leading to reduced cost and time when running operation theatres.

According to TechSci Research report, “United States Surgical Robotics Market By Component (Surgical Systems, Accessories, Services), By Surgery Type (Gynecological Surgery, Urological Surgery, Neurosurgery, Orthopedic Surgery, General Surgery, Others), By End User (Hospitals, Ambulatory Surgery Centers, Others), By Region, Forecast & Opportunities 2025”, United States surgical robotics market is expected to witness a healthy CAGR during the forecast period. Key factors propelling the growth of this market include technological advancements and increasing requirement for automation in healthcare industry. The growing prevalence of chronic diseases and advantages of robotic-assisted surgery including minimization of invasiveness involved in surgical procedures is further supporting the growth of United States surgical robotics market. In addition to this, increasing demand for minimally invasive surgeries coupled with development of procedure specific robotic systems are expected to fuel the market growth in coming years. Also, more hospitals & ambulatory surgery centres are turning towards using surgical robots, which is supporting the growth of this market.



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