Robotics: Moving Surgery into the Information Age
Robotic surgery systems represent one of the fastest growing segments of the overall endoscopic surgery products market. These technologies allow surgeons to perform complex microsurgical tasks with greater precision and smaller incisions, thereby improving cosmesis, reducing postoperative pain, and shortening the length of hospital stay.
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Medical robotics has changed dramatically since the 1980s, when neurosurgeons first used a robot to precisely hold a fixture during brain surgery. Advances in computer image processing, surgical imaging technologies, techniques for registering surgical images, modeling, mechatronics, surgical simulation, and human-robot interaction have opened the door for emerging technologies that will have an increasing impact on growth in this market for many years to come.
Few people have been so integrally connected to surgery's various revolutions as Fred Moll, MD. Two decades ago Moll introduced one of the first enabling tools designed specifically for minimally invasive surgery, ushering in an age of surgery in closed spaces, before turning his attention in the 1990s to surgery's revolution-in-waiting, robotics, helping to launch the MIS revolution, In a recentinterview, Moll talks about those early days, what it was like for a young surgeon to build his first companies, and about the promise of robotics for the future of medicine.
NOTES is an experimental alternative to conventional surgery that uses a combination of endoscopic and laparoscopic techniques to access the peritoneal cavity through the wall of the alimentary canal or other natural orifices, allowing surgeons and gastroenterologists to perform complex surgery without leaving any visible scars. In the last few years, NOTES research, procedures, patents, and venture capital investment have increased exponentially. And although the field is still unproven, the rush to NOTES is being fueled by several important motivators, including the perceived advantages over conventional surgery, patient demand, and a worldwide market potential believed to range between $2 and $4 billion per year.