When you really want to get something done, there’s only one question…Who’s the best person for the job? Well, a few months back the medical community asked that very question…So top surgeons from Johns Hopkins University and Children’s National Health System in Washington, D.C., got together to see who’s best. Only these proven surgeons weren’t competing against one another.
They weren’t even competing against another human.
They were going against a robot!
This new technology is so remarkable, robots are already playing a bigger and bigger role in medicine.“Robot-assisted surgery” (RAS) is quickly becoming a major part of the medical world. Take, for example, Dr. Michael Stifelman, director of New York University’s Robotic Surgery Center. Instead of using his trained hands directly on the patient, he sits on the other side of the room, turning his wrist and pinching his fingers on controls. Then the doctor’s motions are precisely replicated in real-time through teleoperation — or remote control — of hyper-sensitive, sterile robotic arms.
The results are absolutely amazing.
The robot “helper” not only guarantees contamination-free surgery, the new technology gets rid of Stifelman’s shaky hands during longer surgeries. Plus, RAS allows the experienced surgeon to pull off moves he’d never be able to without robotic help, and this actually makes Stifelman a better surgeon.He now refers to using an old-fashioned scalpel as “glorified chopsticks.” But the real test of these medical robots came just last month, during the “competition” I told you about at Johns Hopkins University. The “Smart Tissue Autonomous Robot” (STAR) had to internally stitch up a real, living pig. And it competed against a team of expert human doctors. When they finished, researchers closely examined everyone’s work, but it wasn’t even close. STAR’s stitching was not only more precise than the humans’, It was tighter and SAFER, too! You see, STAR is programmed according to the best surgical techniques, along with high-definition 3D infrared vision to get the job done, so in the end, the humans didn’t stand a chance. Unfortunately, not all operations are that easy.
Just imagine for a second…
Without a human’s help, a robot perfectly clamps an artery and moves on to the next step of a carefully calculated operation…But suddenly the forceps slip! What does the robot think of the unexpected burst of dark red fluid across its vision? Does it recognize the gushing blood? Will it go back to re-clamp the artery, a simple fix any beginner surgeon would know to do? Or is the robot just as unaware of this deadly surprise as the doomed patient? This question is just one of many that has the science world demanding to know, “Who’s really best for the job?” According to a 2014 study on the most common causes of death in the U.S., medical errors account for over 250,000 deaths a year…just behind cancer and heart disease.
So what if that was you on the operating table…Would you trust a computer with all the best surgical techniques uploaded to its “memory”…or is it still too soon to trust your health to the hands of a robot?