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Future of Robotic Surgery

Lendvay, Thomas Sean MD*; Hannaford, Blake PhD; Satava, Richard M. MD

doi: 10.1097/PPO.0b013e31828bf822
Reviews: Part I: Principles of Robotic Surgery

In just over a decade, robotic surgery has penetrated almost every surgical subspecialty and has even replaced some of the most commonly performed open oncologic procedures. The initial reports on patient outcomes yielded mixed results, but as more medical centers develop high-volume robotics programs, outcomes appear comparable if not improved for some applications. There are limitations to the current commercially available system, and new robotic platforms, some designed to compete in the current market and some to address niche surgical considerations, are being developed that will change the robotic landscape in the next decade. Adoption of these new systems will be dependent on overcoming barriers to true telesurgery that range from legal to logistical. As additional surgical disciplines embrace robotics and open surgery continues to be replaced by robotic approaches, it will be imperative that adequate education and training keep pace with technology. Methods to enhance surgical performance in robotics through the use of simulation and telementoring promise to accelerate learning curves and perhaps even improve surgical readiness through brief virtual-reality warm-ups and presurgical rehearsal. All these advances will need to be carefully and rigorously validated through not only patient outcomes, but also cost efficiency.

From the *Department of Urology, University of Washington, Seattle Children’s Hospital; and †Biorobotics Laboratory and ‡Department of Surgery, University of Washington, Seattle, WA.

The authors have disclosed that they have no significant relationships with, or financial interest in, any commercial companies pertaining to this article.

Reprints: Thomas Sean Lendvay, MD, Department of Urology, University of Washington Seattle, Children’s Hospital, 4800 Sand Point Way NE, Seattle, WA 98105. E-mail:

© 2013 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.