Surgeons have to rethink their profession

Surgeons are at the top of the medical food chain. At least that’s the impression the general audience gets from popular medical drama series and their own experiences. No surprise there. Surgeons bear huge responsibilities, they might cause irreparable damages and medical miracles with one incision on the patient’s body.

No wonder that with the rise of digital technologies, the Operating Rooms and surgeons are inundated with new devices aiming at making the least cuts possible.

Surgeons also tend to alienate themselves from patients. The human touch is not necessarily the quintessence of their work.

Treating patients with empathy before and after surgery would ensure their services are irreplaceable also in the age of robotics and artificial intelligence.

Virtual reality

For the first time in the history of medicine, in April 2016 Shafi Ahmed cancer surgeon performed an operation using a virtual reality camera at the Royal London hospital. It is a mind-blowingly huge step for surgery. Everyone could participate in the operation in real time through the Medical Realities website and the VR in OR app.

Everyone could follow through two 360 degree cameras how the surgeon removed a cancerous tissue from the bowel of the patient.

This opens new horizons for medical education as well as for the training of surgeons. VR could elevate the teaching and learning experience in medicine to a whole new level. Today, only a few students can peek over the shoulder of the surgeon during an operation. This way, it is challenging to learn the tricks of the trade.

By using VR, surgeons can stream operations globally and allow medical students to actually be there in the OR using their VR goggles. The team of The Body VR is creating educational VR content as well as simulations aiding the process of traditional medical education for radiologists, surgeons, and physicians. I believe there will be more initiatives like that very soon..!

Surgical robotics

The most commonly known surgical robot is the da Vinci Surgical System, and believe it or not, it was introduced already 15 years ago! It features a magnified 3D high-definition vision system and tiny wristed instruments that bend and rotate far greater than the human hand.

With the da Vinci Surgical System, surgeons operate through just a few small incisions. The surgeon is 100% in control of the robotic system at all times; and he or she is able to carry out more precise operations than previously thought possible.

Augmented reality

AR differs in two very important features from VR. The users of AR do not lose touch with reality, while AR puts information into eyesight as fast as possible. With these distinctive features, it has a huge potential in helping surgeons become more efficient at surgeries. Whether they are conducting a minimally invasive procedure or locating a tumor in liver, AR healthcare apps can help save lives and treat patients seamlessly.

Minimally Invasive Surgery

The medical device start-up, Levita aims to refine such procedures with its Magnetic Surgical System. It is an innovative technological platform utilizing magnetic retraction designed to grasp and retract the gallbladder during a laparoscopic surgery.!

The FlexDex company introduced a new control mechanism for minimally invasive tools. It transmits movement from the wrist of the surgeon to the joint of the instrument entirely mechanically and it costs significantly less than surgical robots..

Artificial Intelligence will team up with surgical robotics

Surgical and expert in the field of surgical robotics believes surgery will take to the next level with the combination of surgical robotics and artificial intelligence. She is thrilled to see IBM Watson, Google Deepmind’s Alpha Go or machine learning algorithms to have a role in surgical procedures. She envisioned a tight partnership between humans and machines, with one making up for the weaknesses of the other..!

In my view, AI such as the deep learning system, Enlitic, will soon be able to diagnose diseases and abnormalities. It will also give surgeons guidance over their – sometimes extremely – difficult surgical decisions..

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