Telesurgical Robotics

Telesurgical Robotics

Sajid Nisar (School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (SEECS), National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST), Pakistan) and Osman Hasan (School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (SEECS), National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST), Pakistan)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-5888-2.ch541
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Telesurgical robotic systems allow surgeons to perform surgical operations from remote locations which may be the same room where operation is being performed or somewhere outside. It may be across the two different countries or even cross-continental as demonstrated in “Operation Lindbergh, (Jacques Marescaux, 2002)” where surgeons performed laparoscopic cholecystectomy form New York, USA while the patient was at Strasbourg, France. Similarly, a telesurgery service was established in Ontario, Canada, between a teaching hospital and a rural community hospital located over 400 km away in 2003. It has been nearly twenty years since the first appearance of telesurgical robotics in the operating room, but it has been only the last five years or so, that the potential of surgical robotics is being recognized by the surgical community as a whole. Now, it can be said with considerable confidence that robotic surgery has demonstrated numerous advantages over conventional surgery and it has revolutionized the operation theater (OT) as well as the surgical techniques.

Some of the distinguishing features of this technology are;

  • More degrees of freedom (referred sometimes as dexterity) in the surgical tool manipulation than the conventional one.

  • Greater precision (even up to <10 micrometers) than the conventional surgical techniques where it is highly dependent of the human hand resolution (100 micrometers typically).

  • Less fatigue for the surgeon, who is now seated and working with an ergonomic console rather than the uncomfortable standing posture in conventional surgical procedures.

  • Enhanced safety, and thus, increased patient trust in surgery by making use of comprehensive and robust safety techniques.

However, these advantages come at the expense of extremely high costs of these complex machines. It is yet to be determined when the benefits will outweigh the cost associated with these (Camarillo, 2004). Staggering capital and operational costs are a great challenge for the designers and engineers to bring these down to a minimum possible level.

Moreover, telesurgical robotics is a multidisciplinary field and requires shared understanding and communication among various professionals like medical doctors, engineers and computer scientists. Due to this diversity, there are various design objectives and meeting them altogether is a great challenge. A number of telesurgical robots have been developed so far with the objective of optimizing certain metrics and thus each one of telesurgical robots has its own advantages as well as shortcomings. The main scope of this chapter is to identify key design metrics for telesurgical robots and compare the existing telesurgical robotic systems accordingly. This information is expected to play a vital role while designing the next generation of telesurgical robots.


Focus Of This Chapter

The main focus of this chapter is to provide a comprehensive survey about telesurgical robotics which can be equally beneficent to engineering and as well as medical professionals. After a brief background, a detailed discussion of various state-of-the-art telesurgical systems is provided. Key design approaches and challenges are identified and their solutions are recommended. A set of parameters that can be used to ascertain the usefulness of a telesurgical robot are discussed. These parameters not only allow one to choose the most suitable option among the existing systems but also can be used as a foundation for the development of the next generation telesurgical systems. A separate section is dedicated for the future research directions in the field followed by conclusions.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Work Space: Work space or reachable space represents all those points which can be reached by the end effector of a robot.

Remote Center of Motion (RCM): A remote fixed point, with no physical revolute joint over there, around which a mechanism or part of it can rotate is called remote center of motion.

Motion Envelope: A motion envelope is a virtual volume representing all positions which a mechanism, and its linkages, achieve during its complete range of motion.

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