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A (Brief) History of Robotic Surgery

As technology and robotics become more intertwined in our day-to-day lives, the way we practice medicine, specifically surgeries like hip and knee replacements, changes rapidly. These advances are gaining the attention of many around the world, including folks at Google, which recently started working on creating advanced robotic surgery platforms. Patients who approach me for care in the Manhattan area also have questions about how technology is incorporated in my procedures. To understand where we are now, it’s helpful to have a basic understanding of how things started.

Robotic-assisted surgery has been around since the 1980s, although it has significantly improved and advanced over the decades. Research indicates that the first minimally invasive surgery took place in 1985, when a robot was used to help perform neurosurgical biopsies. In the years that followed, these robots continued to be developed with surgery in mind, and it eventually led to robotic prostate procedures and hip replacement surgeries. With the advent of robotic surgeries, the way we think about medical procedures forever changed, and companies have since been working to make machines better and better.

In 2010, two robots named McSleepy and DaVinci performed the first-ever fully robotic surgery, with DaVinci functioning as the surgeon and McSleepy serving as anesthesiologist. The surgery, a prostate removal, took place in Montreal. While human surgeons were on hand to monitor the machines, the robots are reported to have “provided for a higher level of precision than would be achievable with humans alone.”

Here in New York, we’re continually researching robotic options for joint replacements. Recently, with partners and facilities, including the NYU Langone Hospital for Joint Diseases, I have been on the cutting edge of procedures that incorporate minimally invasive techniques, as well as smart implant technology. Smart implant technology provides immediate biomechanical feedback at the time of surgical instrumentation, allowing for optimized knee and hip balancing and alignment in new joints.

There are many pros to robotic assisted surgery, including precision incisions, shorter healing time, and reduced scarring, and many of my patients have been overjoyed with the results that come with these techniques. The field is constantly changing, and I am delighted to be a part of it and be able to pass on the benefits to my clients.

Of course, we are still not at a point where robots have entirely replaced humans when it comes to surgery. In most cases, robots simply assist surgeons by providing more intricate handiwork and increased exposure to the area of operation through microscopic cameras. By teaming up with these devices, however, we can ensure that we are providing optimal care for our clients, including you.

If you are considering a hip or knee joint replacement and are curious about how new technologies can be beneficial for your procedure, don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions. We aim to give you the best results that we can so you can get back to the lifestyle that you love.

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