Brazil started using surgical robots in 2008, and since then this practice has grown exponentially, with Brazil being the Latin American country that most performs this type of surgery.
When talking about robotic surgery, most laypeople imagine an android - a human-looking robot - doing all the work alone. In reality, the surgical robot called da Vinci is just an instrument, of high precision, controlled by the surgeon.
The da Vinci robot was developed by Intuitive, a company founded in 1995 to create innovative robotics-assisted systems that help empower doctors and hospitals to make surgery less invasive than an open approach. In 1999 Intuitive launched the da Vinci surgical system, which became one of the first robotic-assisted surgical systems to obtain clearance.
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Currently, the da Vinci robot has already performed more than 6 million surgeries worldwide, and Brazil has a number that comes close to the 20 thousand mark. In the last five years, the number of robotic surgeries in the country has grown by 500%, allowing access and availability to a greater number of people.
How it works and its advantages
The da Vinci surgical system allows the surgeon to perform minimally invasive surgeries with an advanced set of instruments and a high-definition 3D view of the surgical area. Its use is frequent in urology, gynecology, and cardiology procedures, among others.
The da Vinci has four arms, one of which carries the camera, while the other three are free to carry surgical instruments, such as a scalpel, retractors, and scissors.
Robotic surgery has advantages not only concerning conventional (open) surgery but also in laparoscopic surgery. Among the advantages are smaller cuts (because it is less invasive), reduced bleeding, pain, and risks of infection, and faster recovery of the patient, among others.
As already mentioned, the robot does nothing on its own. Its movements follow the surgeon's movements through a console, and if the doctor removes his face from the control screen, the robot stops automatically. Also, in cases of actions not foreseen by the surgeon, a lock is activated to prevent damage to the patient.