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Communications of the ACM


Surgical Robots Deliver Care More Precisely

da Vinci Skills Simulator

The da Vinci Skills Simulator, used to train surgeons in the proper use of the da Vinci Surgical System.

Credit: Intuitive Surgical Inc.

The term "Surgical Robots" is, in essence, a bit of a misnomer. Whereas robots generally are able to operate without any human intervention, surgical "robots" are essentially devices that augment and assist surgeons during procedures by enhancing the facility, vision, and accuracy of human surgeons. Based on the widespread utilization of Intuitive Surgical, Inc.'s da Vinci Surgical System—it has been deployed to more than 2,500 hospitals around the world since its commercialization in 2001—surgeons and patients have embraced the technology.

According to the company, the da Vinci system has been used for a variety of gynecologic, transoral, cardiac, thoracoscopic, and thoracoscopically assisted cardiac procedures, providing an alternative to open or laparoscopic procedures.


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