Computers are rapidly changing thefield of medicine. From minor procedures to major surgery,computers now assist doctors in performing a variety of tasks.Computers permit doctors to perform less invasive procedures,allowing for less trauma and pain for their patients. This alsoshortens recovery time. It is not surprising that robotic, orcomputer-assisted, surgical procedures are growing inpopularity.
What are robotic surgical procedures?
 Robotic surgical procedures involve theuse of robotic arms, computer technology, and the expertise oftrained surgeons. Used collaboratively, these three resources helpcomplete any of a number of surgical procedures efficiently andeffectively. For example, open-heart surgery was once one of themost complicated medical procedures. Doctors made a foot-longincision to access the heart, performed the procedure, and thensutured the incision. Recovery was typically long and painful.However, robotic heart surgery allows doctors to make a minorincision (about a centimeter long) and insert a three-dimensionalcamera and miniature surgical instruments. The surgeon performs theactual procedure while seated at a computer in an adjoining room.Through the use of the camera and computer, the surgeon views amagnified image of the heart and performs each procedure with theminiature instruments. The movements of the surgeon’s hands aretransformed through the computer and relayed to the robotic armsthat guide the instruments. Previously a highly invasive procedure,heart surgery can now be performed with minimal adverse effects onthe patient.
Who makes the decisions?
 Unlike using the autopilot feature tofly a plane, the computer and the robotic arms are never incontrol. The specially trained surgeon makes each and everydecision. There is no chance that the computer can make anymovement without human guidance.
What are the benefits of robotic surgery?
 Robotic surgery makes the surgeon’smovements more precise. The camera and surgical instruments areguided by the doctor through the computer. Unlike hands-on surgery,the doctor’s hands do not shake because the computer refines andsteadies each movement. This creates less risk of injury to thepatient’s other organs. Add to that the reduced incision size andthe shortened healing time, and the advantages seemimmeasurable.
Can the surgery be performed long-distance?
 Currently, robotic surgical procedurescannot be performed long-distance. However, it is certainly anoption in the future. Since the surgeon is not physically seatednext to the patient, the surgery can potentially be performedlong-distance using the Internet and other technologies. When thisfeature becomes readily available, it will enable patients inremote areas to receive the benefits that skilled surgeons have tooffer.
Can all traditional surgeries be performed robotically?
 Unfortunately, this new type oftechnology is not yet appropriate for many surgeries. Surgeriesthat involve hard-to-reach areas of the body, that require morevisibility than the robotic camera provides, or that demand adegree of movement not allowed by the robotic instruments, stillrequire traditional methods. Until robotic surgery technologyaddresses these limitations, doctors will continue to performtraditional surgeries in operating rooms.
What does the future of surgery look like?
 Just as consumers were once reluctantto accept the computer, many medical professionals also balk at theintroduction of robotic surgery. However, robotic surgery is aboutas likely to disappear as the computer is.
 It is more likely that the future ofrobotic surgery will bring vast improvements. Microscopic camerasand surgical tools will become more refined and will allow thedoctors to operate in more areas of the body. Computers that allowthe doctors to perform complex procedures will become more precise.And, as more doctors are trained in this valuable process, morepeople will elect to have surgery that offers fewer risks, lesspain, and quicker recovery times.
Richard used the first two columns of the KWL chartprior to reading the passage. Some of his questions were answered,but he wants to find out more about the subject of robotics. Whichquestion will he want to research further?
|A.||Which types of computers andsoftware are used for robotic surgery?|
|B.||How does the cost of roboticsurgery compare to traditional surgery?|
|C.||What type of training is requiredto perform robotic surgical procedures?|
|D.||How do patients who undergorobotic surgical procedures react?|