Robots are changing the way we do everything, from manufacturing consumer goods to speeding up assembly lines, and they are currently everywhere in our lives, from robotic pets in our living rooms to robots in outer space studying other planets. There are even robots in surgical rooms, assisting doctors to perform surgeries. While this area is still under development, there are currently thousands of robots worldwide performing many types of surgery, including general surgery, cardiothoracic surgery, colon and rectal surgery, neurosurgery, radiosurgery, transplant surgery, and gastrointestinal surgery, among others.
Robots permit a high level of control and precision in the use of surgical instruments, which is essential in the field of minimally invasive surgery. They scale down a surgeon’s movements permitting operations with considerable less tissue damage and thus shorter recovery times. There are currently three types of robotic surgery systems; supervisory-controlled systems, telesurgical systems, and shared-control systems. In the supervisory controlled system, the robot is programed previously to the surgery and it performs most of the procedure by itself under the supervision of a surgeon. These procedures are the most expensive as the robot must be programed before each individual surgery, requiring a large amount of images and medical data from each patient. In the telesurgical system, a surgeon remotely operates the robot during the procedure using real-time data feedback provided by the robot. Finally, in the shared-control system the surgeon performs the procedure with the assistance of a robot, which grants the surgeon greater precision and stability.
Among the most famous robotic surgeons is the Da Vinci Surgical System, a telesurgical device that allows doctors to work at smaller scales than normal surgery while providing a closer vision. Da Vincis are currently used all over the world for over 200,000 operations a year, mainly for hysterectomies and prostate removals. There are currently six robots of this type in Mexico. Including one in Hospital “Manuel Gea González” which is currently being used for prostate cancer patients, but it is planned to be also used for general surgery, gynecology, neck and head surgery, and gastric bypass. Prostate removals are being offered at this hospital free of charge for patients who do not have social security and would otherwise be unable to afford these services. In 2016, Mexico City plans to perform 200 robot-assisted surgeries.