Robotics May Be the Future of Surgery

The future of surgery may very well look like something out of the Matrix, where minute robots roam a human body diagnosing, medicating, and mending from the inside out. State of the art robotics are best exemplified by the da Vinci Surgical System when addressing minimally invasive procedures.

“Study the past to know the future” is a well-worn adage that admonishes us to exercise a healthy perspective on the value of gleaning worthwhile things from history to understand and appreciate where you are and perhaps what may be ahead. Who doesn’t get a guilty pleasure from taking in a little weird history? And nothing is stranger than the history of medical surgery.

The modern history of surgical medicine is presently going through a fascinating stage with the advent of the wide spread use of robotics, and the future of surgery no doubt holds a multitude of surprises. But what about surgery’s ancient history? Did you know that archaeologists in France discovered a 7,000 year old body that had evidence of trepanation (a hole in the head). Trepanation was used for thousands of years in an attempt to relieve headaches, seizures, and mental disorders. If aspirin had been discovered first, perhaps trepanation would have been the operation of last resort after a tough day of hunting and gathering.

The business of medical surgery took a huge leap forward with the publishing of the 1754 BC Babylonian best seller, The Code of Hammurabi. This ancient code of laws set the amount a surgeon could be paid and inversely how much a surgeon would pay a patient if he made a mistake. Apparently, there was no recorded law as to the allocation of lawyer’s fees.

More than 4,000 years ago the ancient Egyptians, Sumerians, Indians, and Chinese 4,000 began to develop a greater sophistication in surgical implements and procedures. The Chinese even have a documented history of using anesthesia 1,600 years before Europeans did!

The Dark Ages created a gap of hundreds of years in the evolution of surgery in Western culture. The knowledge that was previously attained was lost or forgotten, to be replaced by rank poverty, rampant disease, superstition and the lack of intellectual curiosity. However, in the Arab world there was a steady increase in the body of surgical knowledge. Fortunately, an expansive Arab empire brought their medical skill and know-how to the rest of Europe during the middle ages. By the sixteenth century, when armies were sweeping back and forth across the continent, surgeons-in-training were using the battlefields as labs to uncover the mysteries of wound care, broken limbs, and internal anatomy.

The Victorian Age brought about technological and scientific breakthroughs that we have learned to take for granted. Louis Pasteur’s work on identifying micro-organisms lead Joseph Lister to developing antiseptic surgical procedures. German physicist Wilhelm Röntgen discovered medical X-rays when he noticed that these rays could penetrate the skin, allowing the skeletal structure to be captured on a specially treated photographic plate.

We are the beneficiaries of this journey from ancient times until today. If you are a baby boomer you have witnessed in your lifetime the development of electrosurgery, endoscopy, laser surgery, all things digital including VR and AI, and of course robotic surgery.

The future of surgery may very well look like something out of the Matrix, where minute robots roam a human body diagnosing, medicating, and mending from the inside out. State of the art robotics are best exemplified by the da Vinci Surgical System when addressing minimally invasive procedures.

One of the finest groups of surgeons in the country who utilize the da Vinci Surgical System is Desert West Surgery in Las Vegas. If you are a candidate for surgery give them a call at 702-383-4040.

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