Robots in the OR continue to gain medical, patient acceptance

Robotically assisted surgery procedures, as opposed to traditional open surgeries, allow for small and sometimes miniaturized instruments to maneuver in hard-to-reach internal areas.

The first robot-assisted surgery was performed in 1985. Today’s minimally invasive procedures call for the surgeon, instead of directly moving the instruments, to use either a direct manipulator or a computer control to maneuver the instruments precisely. A manipulator allows the surgeon to perform the normal movements associated with the surgery while the robotic arms carry out those movements using “end-effectors” to perform the actual surgery.

“Some advantages of robotic surgery are precision, smaller incisions, less pain, and quicker healing times,” says Dr. Kemp Kernstine, a recognized pioneer in minimally invasive surgical techniques and chief of thoracic surgery at UT Southwestern Medical Center. “The robots we use are not intended to act independently from human surgeons or to replace them. These machines merely act as extensions guided by the movements or inputs of the surgeon.”

Robotically assisted surgery in gynecology is one of the fastest growing specialties. Medical machines also have been widely used in cardiothoracic cases, in neurosurgery, bariatric, and for prostate and other cancers.

Visit to learn more about UT Southwestern’s clinical services in surgery, including minimally invasive procedures.

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