Robots key to future, surgeon tells Capital
ROBOT surgeons which can carry out complex surgery without even making an incision may soon be performing operations in Scottish hospitals.
The pioneer of keyhole surgery Sir Alfred Cushieri will unveil his vision of the future as part of this year's Edinburgh Lectures series.
A fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh which is hosting his lecture on Monday, Sir Alfred believes that surgeons in Scots hospitals could be working with the robots on a regular basis within the next decade.
He believes the method would benefit patients as they would recover more quickly and heal without scars.
Sir Alfred is renowned in medical circles as being the pioneer of "keyhole" or laparoscopic surgery, a way of carrying out an operation without having to make a large incision in the body.
Far from being the stuff of science fiction, the "master-slave telemanipulator" robots of Sir Alfred's lecture are already being developed and tested and have been used to conduct keyhole investigations.
In future, experts believe the robots will be developed to crawl inside the body and perform procedures so that cuts do not have to be made to the body at all.
Sir Alfred said: "I think this technology is here now. Minimum access technology, it is being practiced in at least 40 per cent of operations in the UK and other countries. It can mean less pain, faster recovery, a shorter period of being disabled, going back to work earlier and no scars.
"It has had a number of problems which have already been resolved by training and improved instrumentation over the last ten years. Looking ahead to the future, I want to talk about how this technology and approach will progress because medical technology is increasingly technology dependent and I will be looking ahead to things like robots and micro robots and what they will do for patients."
A three-armed machine, called a Da Vinci robot, has already been used to conduct keyhole surgery in America and France.
Currently, the robot does not work alone as one surgeon is needed to make the incision in the body and guide the machine's three arms into place.
The robot then delicately performs the operation by mimicking the wrist movements of another surgeon who is sitting at a computer console. Advantages include being able to make tiny movements for intricate procedures while remaining absolutely steady.
Examinations like this are able to diagnose many conditions including ectopic pregnancy, ovarian cysts and appendicitis.
Sir Alfred's work received top recognition three years ago when the Princess Royal presented him with the Royal Medal at a ceremony at the Signet Library.
Nominated by the RSE, the award recognises intellectual endeavour which has had a profound influence on people's lives
The RSE is an educational charity which organises lectures and debates. A spokesman for the organisation said: "We are delighted that Sir Alfred is giving one of this year's Edinburgh Lectures here in the RSE.
"Internationally renowned, Sir Alfred has made an outstanding contribution to the practice of medicine by pioneering developments in keyhole surgery.
"His surgical techniques have been adopted worldwide and have greatly reduced the time patients spend in hospital.
"It is a great pleasure for us to continue our partnership with the Edinburgh Lectures and to host what promises to be a fascinating presentation."
Tickets for Sir Alfred's lecture are still available and further details are available by calling 0131-240 5000.
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Saturday 18 May 2013
Temperature: 9 C to 13 C
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Wind direction: North east
Temperature: 9 C to 18 C
Wind Speed: 8 mph
Wind direction: North east