What is Robotic Surgery?

In all corners of the world, healthcare has been one of the most important industries of the last year and a half.  Now, more than ever, individuals are taking ownership of their health and carefully weighing their available medical options at every step of their personalized treatment.  Alongside this development, recent advancements in surgical device technologies are increasingly being driven by the same advancements in robotics and software technologies that have traditionally been employed in manufacturing environments.  The application of these technologies to medicine is redefining surgical interventions in pursuit of the laudable goal of decreasing medical risk and patient recovery times.  In total, these new surgical interventions are leading to better overall patient outcomes across many surgical fields.

What is Robotic Surgery?

In essence, robotic surgery is broadly defined as a minimally invasive surgical procedure that is performed by computer-controlled surgical instruments and equipment.  These procedures only require very small incisions that are just large enough to fit the instrument leads.  To perform the surgery, the surgeon navigates the robotic instruments with the aid of both optical and other sensory instrumentation via a computer control console.  This enables the surgeon to maintain ultra-precise control over surgical instruments to perform complex procedures with far greater dexterity and accuracy than what could be accomplished in a more traditional open surgical setting with handheld instruments.  In summary, surgical robotic tools are able to execute intricate procedures in areas of the body that were previously impossible to achieve using ordinary human hands.

Robotic Surgery Room

Why are Robotic Surgical Techniques Beneficial to the Patient?

The numerous benefits of robotic surgery lay primarily in the fact that robotic surgeries require much smaller incisions than would be required in open surgery.  An advanced medical degree isn’t needed to understand that smaller incisions lead to more positive patient health outcomes such as shortened recovery times, fewer instances of infections, and smaller scars.  Robotic surgical instruments are simply able to operate within much smaller cavities than what is required for an open surgery performed by human hands.  The simple fact is that traditional open surgeries require much larger incisions to facilitate working space for the surgeon along with all required instrumentation.

Components Used in Robotic Surgery

The global surgical robotics industry was approximately $5.5 billion in size at the end of 2020 and is expected to grow at an annualized rate of 10% during this decade[i] (Intrado GlobeNewswire, 2021).  To serve these markets, MISUMI offers a wide selection of configurable and off-the-shelf parts for use in surgical robots. 

The most common robotic surgery components consist of advanced optical camera leads which the surgeon uses to navigate the operation.  Additional components such as small instruments with interchangeable attachments may be fitted to other robotic-controlled instruments as needed depending on the operation.  Then, the surgeon performs the operation using control inputs at the computer control console which operates the surgical equipment and navigates the instruments.  In more advanced surgical robotic systems, the surgeon’s hand movements can even be translated directly to movements of the surgical instruments.  All of these functionalities are made possible by rapid robotic advancements applied to surgical intervention techniques.

Surgeon using optical camera to navigate operation

Furthermore, there are four main assemblies used in most robotic surgeries:

  • The surgeon console
  • Patient bed
  • Robot arm
  • Tool assembly
Assemblies of Robotic Surgeries

Surgical Console

First, the surgical console is where the surgeon interfaces with the robotic controls.  The heart of this console are mechanical actuators which consist of ball screws and linear guide sub-assemblies.  These components facilitate the linear motion required for dimensional adjustments to ergonomically fit the console to the surgeon.  Additional console components such as standoffs are configured to length and used for mounting electrical components inside of the computer hardware region of the console.

Patient Bed

The second notable assembly is the patient bed.  Positional adjustments are necessary to ensure that the patient is comfortable and properly positioned for the surgical procedure.  Common components found in this bed are linear guides, plastic bushings, brackets, and wiring harnesses.

Robotic Arm

The third assembly is the robotic arm which requires tight location control.  A variety of various components such as cross roller bearings, thrust bearings, needle bearings, machined pins and shafts, retaining rings, lock nuts, washers, low head cap screws, as well as other miscellaneous fasteners all work together to achieve the ultra-high degrees of precision and control that are required for surgical procedures.

Tool Assembly

The last important assembly is known as the tool assembly.  This assembly interfaces with a wide variety of unique tools depending on the operation and surgical procedures.  Precision and accuracy in this assembly is critical because these are the instruments that touch and move human tissues in the patient during the operation.  Many of the same basic components previously identified in the first three assemblies are also employed in the tool assembly except engineered with more stringent precision and smaller component size requirements.  To this end, miniature linear guides, shim rings, and fasteners are all typical MISUMI components used in the tool assembly.

MISUMI has a wide range of both configurable and “off-the-shelf” product offerings to serve a wide assortment of surgical robotics needs.  MISUMI products can all be employed to construct any manner of surgical robotic equipment from scratch.  The reality is that all of these machine automation components can be employed in any motion system, no matter what the control system entails, whether it is a fully computer-controlled, multidimensional robotic system or a simple linear step motor-controlled system.  MISUMI components are ready to meet the challenge of creating more advanced surgical robotics systems to better serve the health and welfare of the world! To learn more, visit MISUMI.INFO/medical.

[i] https://www.globenewswire.com/en/news-release/2021/05/06/2224428/28124/en/Global-Surgical-Robotics-Market-Report-2021-Market-Generated-5-46-Billion-in-2020-and-is-Estimated-to-Reach-16-77-Billion-by-2031.html

About the Author

Carlicia Layosa

Carlicia is a Product Marketing Engineer at MISUMI. She holds a bachelor's degree in Mechanical Engineering and a master's degree in Energy Engineering from the University of Illinois at Chicago. She is a Certified SOLIDWORKS Associate, Marketo Certified Expert, and is passionate about education and training.

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