The 4-Armed Surgical Robot: A League of Its Own

surgery, robot, surgical robot, Lung Transplant,

A Spanish 4-armed surgical robot performed the world’s first fully robotic lung transplant, forever changing healthcare.

  • This robotic technology allowed for precise movements and advanced capabilities, enabling complex tasks such as suturing blood vessels and connecting the new lung.
  • The robotic approach resulted in smaller incisions, minimized damage to the ribcage, and allowed for a more comfortable recovery for patients.

I don’t like going under the knife unless absolutely necessary: we’re talking an “if all else fails” kind of thing. It’s mainly because I understand that doctors are humans and that humans make mistakes sometimes. But what if I told you that the human margin error could be greatly reduced at some point? Earlier this year, a 4-armed surgical robot made headlines for successfully transplanting a lung in a minimally invasive surgery.  

The Pioneer

Earlier this year, Spain witnessed a significant medical achievement in Spain, the world’s first lung transplant performed entirely by a robot. Medical professionals from Spain’s Vall d’Hebron Hospital successfully conducted the groundbreaking surgery using robotic technology. This robotic lung transplant involved a surgical robot that carried out the entire procedure without human intervention. The robot’s precise movements and advanced capabilities enabled it to perform complex tasks such as suturing blood vessels and connecting the new lung to the patient’s body.

I’d like to point out that the surgical robot is commonly used in hospitals across Europe and the USA for cardiac, urologic, gynecologic, pediatric, and general surgery. So, while Mount Sinai Hospital in New York has performed a similar surgery in the past, this one is the first to be fully automated.

What does this mean for the future of healthcare?

This milestone could be considered a win for the artificial. But let’s not pretend like it isn’t so for patients worldwide.

For those of you who don’t know what lung transplant surgery entails, here’s what I learned:

  • Surgeons make a 30 cm incision (that’s approximately 11.9 inches for my American readers).
  • They cut through the ribs.
  • They remove and replace the diseased lung with a healthy donor lung.
  • They test its functionality by deflating and reflating it.
  • They close everything back up.
  • They move the patient to the intensive care unit (ICU) for close monitoring.

This is a very brief and rough description of the recovery process. The reality, however, is anything but. And that’s putting it mildly.

The operating surgical robot here, however, has super-human dexterity and accuracy. It managed to complete the operation without breaking ribs. Instead, the surgeons made smaller cuts, about 8 cm (3.15 in.) to the side of the ribcage, accommodating the robot’s arms and 3D cameras. This technology allowed them to cut only the skin and insert the donor organ little by little.

This drastic change in the mode of operating allows for a MUCH more comfortable recovery time for the patients. And that’s the bottom line, isn’t it? making sure that our patients swiftly recover with the least amount of discomfort possible.

Final Thoughts

I’ve been to the OR once for a minimal issue. It was not a fun experience: coming out of anesthesia felt like the beginning of a Resident Evil movie. No, thank you. But what about those whose condition forces them to be consistently in there? Let us not allow our fear of becoming obsolete in an increasingly technological world blinds us to all the good it offers. The Spanish surgical robot is only the beginning.

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