Surgical Robots

Editorial for online medium De Correspondent

After the introduction of the first remote controlled surgical instrument, the Puma 560, in 1985, robotics assisted surgery has made a rapid development. Nowadays The Da Vinci Surgical System is being used in more and more hospitals, used to preform a growing variety of surgeries like prostate removal, open-heart surgery and joint replacements. Although called a robot, the Da Vinci is actually a precision instrument controlled by a highly trained surgeon; the machine does not work autonomous in any way.

The advances of this type of surgery are an improved ability to diagnose, much less invasive wounds for the patient and a more precise method of working for the surgeon. This should all so reduce the costs per operation per patient, although that aspect is still very much under debate. One Da Vinci system costs about € 1.000.000,- to buy and another €.100.000,- to maintain every year.

For this article (in Dutch) journalist Milou van der Zwan interviewed a range of experts and patients. I joined her during a prostate removal operation at the Rijnstate Hospital in Arnhem.