Robotic surgery is an exciting new surgical development and will probably revolutionise surgery over the next 10 years.
For example hysterectomies for benign gynaecological conditions have increased dramatically over the last few years.
About da Vinci® Hysterectomy
Until recently, surgery for most gynecologic conditions was performed using a large abdominal incision. This is because while conventional laparoscopic surgery is effective for many routine procedures, the long-handled, rigid instruments used in laparoscopy are not usually considered effective for delicate or complex operations.
There has been some criticitism in the medical press about the extra cost (see below - leader in JAMA) and the fact that patient benefits are limited, but this type of treatment is still in its infancy and costs wil probably drop and benefits to patients become more apparent and as experience of when to best use the technique is gained.
From JAMA - leader dated 20th February 2013:
During the last 10 years, the use of robotic-assisted surgery has substantially increased, beginning with urologic procedures and expanding to include gynecologic procedures and many others.1- 2Robotic-assisted surgery is a type of minimally invasive procedure that in fact facilitates laparoscopic surgery. Both approaches provide benefits compared with open surgery, including smaller incisions, shorter hospital stays, less postoperative pain, and possibly quicker return to function.2 As of 2009, more than 200 000 robotically assisted operations had been performed worldwide.2 The reason for its rapid dissemination in the United States may be linked to a number of converging factors, including better ergonomics for the surgeon, marketing campaigns, and the national fascination with technology and innovation. Under other circumstances, this might be an unparalleled success story of US medical ingenuity. However, critics of robotic surgery claim that it is more expensive without providing a concomitant benefit.
Robotic surgeons have carried out heart surgery in the UK (October 2012) with clear benefits to the patients. See article below:
More robotic surgeons are being trained (New training centre at UCLH, London, UK - March 2012)