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Robotic Surgery

Background on robotic surgery

Robotics is a branch of technology that deals with the design, construction, and manufacture of robots and computer systems for their control, sensory feedback, and information processing. This is a rapidly growing field. New inventions have come up and new robots are being built to serve various domestic practices domestically, commercially and militarily. Research and potential use of robotics didn’t grow until the 20th century. However, the creation and ideas behind machines began in classical times. Robots have been used in science fiction, industrial sites and also for entertainment in the film industry (Craig, 2005).

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Robotic surgery is a term that is used to describe technological developments that use robotic systems to aid in surgical procedures. It was an expertise established to overcome restrictions in slightly invasive surgery and to improve the skill of the surgeon carrying out an open surgery. During a minimally invasive surgery, the surgeon has the option of using two methods to control the surgery: tele-manipulator or computer control.

When using the tele manipulator, the surgeon can use the normal movements that they use during the surgery but this time the robot performs these movements. The surgeon can carry out the surgery from any part of the world (Russell, 1990).

During an open surgery, traditional steel tools are replaced with autonomous instruments. Certain actions are therefore performed more smoothly and feed-back controlled motions that could never be achieved even by the most skilled surgeon hand are achieved. Tissue trauma associated with open surgery is significantly reduced or eliminated all-together. Learning how to use this new technology doesn’t take a lot of time. It requires no more than a few minutes training for surgeons.

Robotic surgery has its origins back in 1985. It began with the PUMA 560 and advanced to the PROBOT which was created and did prostatic surgery at St. Thomas’ Hospital in London. Other improvements for robotic aided surgery were established through the creation of the Da Vinci Surgical system and computer aided motions of the AESOP and the ZEUS robotic surgical methods.

Robotic surgery in the US and other countries

The Da Vinci Surgical System is currently used in the USA. It is made up of three parts: a surgeon’s console, a patient-side robotic cart with 4 arms and a high definition 3D vision system. The cart is controlled by the surgeon where one arm controls the camera while the rest control the instruments. The Da Vinci has the capacity to identify the surgeon’s hand activities and transforms them to scaled-down micro actions to regulate the small exclusive tools.

The camera utilized in the method gives a stereoscopic picture that is communicated to the doctor’s console. The Da Vinci system is able to perform surgery for prostate cancer, hysterectomy, and mitral valve repair.

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One disadvantage of robotic surgery is that the cost of the procedure is much higher than that of traditional surgery. Furthermore, further training is needed to in order for the surgeon to be able to operate the system. This raises the question as to whether buying the system is really worth-while. It takes operating on twelve to eighteen patients before the surgeon can properly adapt to the system.

Moreover, it takes twice the time it takes to perform a minimally invasive procedure during the training phase and this means that the patient has to be placed under anesthesia for longer periods. The long hours in the operating rooms results in operating room tie-ups.

This system does have a few advantages. Since the system has the ability to filter out any tremors in the surgeon’s hands, it gives the surgeon the ability to operate more smoothly. This system uses a method where minor cuts are made. As a consequence patient recovery is rapid. This is better than traditional open surgery which is related with infection and pain after the operation, and a lengthy time to completely recover. Surgeons also do not get tired after the procedure because they don’t stand through-out. The system is developed in such a way that it gives the surgeon a better look at the surgical area.

This system has been widely accepted and adopted in other countries such as Europe, Japan, India, Italy and Saudi Arabia.

The media advertisement on robotics

The media has popularized the da Vinci system and call it a “hit”. However it raises the question as to whether the traditional surgery is less effective than the new wave of robotic surgery or is it just less expensive. The media has highlighted what surgeon’s express as a marketing tool rather than new improvements in surgery. Provided there hasn’t been enough research on the da Vinci system, this will always remain the same (Russell, 1990).

The number of da Vinci systems is growing meaning that it has a popular demand. It is not a cheap tool. It is estimated to cost between $1.1 million to $2 million. The tool has been marketed in various hospital websites with all of them claiming to have surgical superiority. Studies have shown that promoting the instrument wins over more converts than the authentic outcomes of the operating procedure after going through it. Most experts believe that it is only appealing in marketing but marketing fails to show the inaccurate and really harmful, potentially harmful information, wrapped in the glitz and the glamor of a new technology

Cultural elements of robotics

Different cultures have their own beliefs and practices. When we compare robotics in Japan and the US we find that there is a big difference. For instance, those building social robots in Japan and in the West have two different ideas and concepts. In Japan, the robots are built to be as expressive as the masks worn by Japanese Noh Play actors while in US the robots are built to be more explicit in their expression of emotions. Western culture is known for promoting independence among its people while in Japan, the culture promotes interdependence. The Western robot innovators develop machines that have their own particular characteristics.

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The culture of interdependence influences how the machines will be developed. Here they prefer machines that they can interact with the same way they would interact with a colleague. They expect the robot to behave the same way a colleague of theirs would behave. The Japanese on the other hand value inferring emotions from the psychological state of interactions. However despite these differences in culture, Japan has adopted the robotic surgery system due to its value and advantages. People from the West have no problem using the da Vinci system because it serves as an independent human being.

Effects on language

Technology has been known to influence language indirectly. Since the development of infrastructure and transport systems, people have been able to move around and interact with one another. A technological innovation such as the invention of weapons has contributed to the use of language. For instance the figure of speech “all guns blazing” is used to refer to a deed executed with vitality and/or belligerence. It has extended to the everyday use of language.

Other metaphors include “under the radar” which means doing things on the down low. This is a language adapted from weather forecasting systems flying of aircrafts. Technology is a means by which man extends his reach. This makes it necessary to connect to the language. Natural languages and technology are important in enabling us to do all sorts of things in most areas of human activity. One kind of technology may be used to pass on information derived from other technologies to users of another technology. Some technologies are well suited for these kinds of language use.

Technological innovators do not always anticipate the new kinds of language adaptations that will be coined from the users of their technological innovations. For instance, the innovation of the gramophone and text messaging in mobile phones developed in ways that their innovators couldn’t have predicted (Tsai, 1999).

The first gramophone was used to record a spoken voice. However it was later used to record musical performances for later playback. Text messaging was meant to display to the user information on how to use the handset. It soon became apparent that one could use this to enter free text. The user would be able to transmit the texts by using the underlying technology as the voice calls. The innovators of this technology did not anticipate that this was something the user would have been interested in. we are soon to see people referring to some of the terms used in robotic surgery in a metaphorical way just like other technologies have contributed to the English language.

Celebrity endorsements on robotic surgery

High technology oriented products require the use of celebrity endorsements so as to have a bigger impact on the consumer’s risk perceptions. Advertisers use the source attractiveness model. This is whereby they use the likeability, similarity, and familiarity of the source to influence the customer. A celebrity adds value to a product over an anonymous model.

Artist’s reactions on robotic surgery

One issue that has raised a lot of controversy in art is the use of robots. This is influenced by the definition of what a robot is. There are mythological traditions of other cultures that complicate the issue further. There are traditions that originated ideas such as the Greek story of Galatea. However, there are recent literary traditions that offer fictional characters such as Automata, cyborgs, etc. television has further popularized the use of these characters.

Another issue is that robots are known to be used in scientific research and industrial applications. Every artist approaches robotics in different ways. They develop strategies by hybridizing robots with other media, systems, contexts, and life forms. Artists have continued to push the limits of art. They continue to introduce robotics as a new medium at the same time that they challenge our understanding of robots. Robots fascinate the population at large and there still remains a large portion of unexplored social, political, and emotional implications. These implications need to be understood in the contemporary art context.

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Artists have been influenced to produce works of art that show robot assisted surgery. Such artists include Gustav Klimt which is highly priced. Phrases such as optimal light have been used by artists that specialize in poetry and prose. Optimal light to a surgeon simply means lighting that shows body fluids in their rightful color. In poetry and prose it has metaphorical use such as shadow and luminance. Artists use the easel to create x-ray like images on canvas that carry a special meaning. Similarly, the surgeon sees a message in his x-ray images.

The first robotic art work was seen in the 1960’s. Kinetic art made a substantial impact to sculpture free from fixed form and brought into effect again the contraption at the core of the artistic argument.

Stories and films influenced by robotics surgery

Robotics has influenced the science fiction genre in a great number of ways. Robots have become more interesting than they were before. The I Robot has had a greater impact on modern popular culture particularly with respect to science fiction and technology. Several fictional comedies such as “Futurama” have made reference to the I Robot on multiple occasions. Episodes such as the “I Roommate” and “The Cyber House Rules” have featured the I Robot. Episodes in the original Star Trek series have also made reference to the I Robot. The robot is referenced in the episode “I, Borg”.

Asimov named his robots’ central processors positronic brain. This is what has been used to power Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation. Television shows such as “Doctor Who”, “Once Upon a Time”, “Space”, “Perry Rhodan”, “The Number of the Beast”, among other films have paid tribute to Positronic brains by making reference to them. He is known for creating the robotic series “The Bicentennial Man” which is based on a robotic surgeon. It is adapted from his previous work on the film, “The Positronic Man” which was produced in 1993.

Author Cory Doctorow is well known author behind the story “I, Robot”. The story was written as homage to Asimov. Other short stories that were released include “I row-boat”, which was released in the short-story collection known as “Overclocked: Stories of the Future Present”.

Some of the ethnical positions represented in the paperwork are well thought-out to be less directly linked to science literature and knowledge. The Alan Parsons album released in 1977 titled “I, Robot”, was inspired by Asimov’s I, Robot. When the album was being developed it was to use the themes and ideas existing in the short story assortment. Unfortunately, The Alan Parsons Project was not given the rights to be able to achieve this. This was in spite of Asimov’s enthusiasm. It later was revealed that he had already assigned the rights elsewhere. This brought about in the album’s idea being changed slightly although the name was retained.

Edman Goodrich, an experimental artist, released an electronica album in 2002 which shared the title of I, Robot. This album was believed to bear a lot of influence from the Asimovian themes. The Singaporean band Deus Ex Machina who debuted the album “I, Human”, in 2009, copied some of Asimov’s principles on robotics and applied them to the notion of cloning.

Endhiran is an Indian science fiction film that was released in 2010. The fictional character Chitti has been used to refer to Asimov’s 3 laws of artificial intelligence. There is a part in the film where a scientist takes in the robot for evaluation.

Robotic surgery and humanity

KIMS is a hospital that opened in South India to assist patients that were suffering from disorders of the colon. Even though this is a technology that is yet to be accepted, it is growing rapidly. KIMS has used this new technology to perform operations on needy patients.

This technology is believed to benefit the patient in various ways and also improve their quality of life. Since the procedure involves minimal invasion, patient recovery is quick. KIMS was able to perform these surgeries through funding by the Arogyasree Scheme. Currently there are four hospitals in India that have adopted the use of robotic assisted surgery. There is a prospect that perhaps the number of hospitals that use this new technology will increase and thereby improve the lives of those suffering from colon cancer.

The robot assisted colorectal surgery repairs damaged tissue in the colon. Colorectal surgery is a new and upcoming branch of medicine that surgeons hope will grow and expand with time. The procedure usually lasts no more than 3 hours. Furthermore, the technology is able to detect areas that are disease infected much more accurately. Since the process is minimally invasive, chances of the patient developing sexually transmitted diseases or any other complications are greatly reduced thereby improving the patient’s quality of life. The patient is assured that sexual function and bladder function will remain intact.

KIMS has worked together with other foundations such as Vattikuti Urology Institute (VUI), Michigan, U.S.A. This is a foundation that mainly deals with research in minimally invasive surgery with focus on robotic surgery. The foundation has taken to establishing robotic assisted facilities globally.

The one thing that surgeons stress about robotic surgery is that it has several advantages such as the making of incisions that are so tiny that patient recovery form operation is rapid. Quick healing time is the most important thing that has been applauded when it comes to robotic surgery. This could explain why it is being adopted by medical institutions globally. With this new technology, rapid recovery from surgery means that the patient will incur fewer costs because they won’t spend as much time in hospital and secondly, it is less expensive for society. Some other positive things that come with robotic operation are accuracy, neatness, and decrease in the amount of blood that is lost. This is more humane even for those performing the surgery.


Chalker, J. L & Mark, M. (1998). The Science-Fantasy Publishers: A Bibliographic History, 1923-1998. Westminster, MD and Baltimore: Mirage Press, Ltd.

Craig, J.J. (2005). Introduction to Robotics. Upper Saddle River: Pearson Prentice Hall.

Russell, R. A. (1990). Robot Tactile Sensing. New York: Prentice Hall.

Tsai, L. W. (1999). Robot Analysis., New York: Prentice Hall.

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