Your doctor controls the da Vinci System, which translates his or her hand movements into smaller, more precise movements of tiny instruments inside your body. Though it is often called a “robot,” da Vinci cannot act on its own. Instead, the surgery is performed entirely by your doctor.
The robotic system was originally developed by the Department of Defense for use as a robotic surgeon for the battlefield and is approved by the FDA. The system replicates the surgeon's hand movements realtime in laparoscopic instruments. It cannot be programmed, nor does it make any independent decisions, but rather it does only what the surgeon inputs in realtime.
Standard laparoscopic viewing utilizes one single camera and limits surgeon's vision to a 2-D view similar to watching your television.The da Vinci robotic camera consists of TWO high resolution fiber optic cameras. Like your eyes they produce a true 3 dimensional color picture available to the surgeon seated at the da Vinci console by viewing the twin high resolution, high frame-rate eyepieces.Magnification of up to 10-12x can be achieved with these cameras. These components constitute the Insite Vision System, by Intuitive Surgical, one of the most advanced vision systems available.
A central robotic arm positions the camera and lighting exactlly where the surgeon wishes it, because it is operated by the surgeon by foot pedals as he/she is comfortably seated at the console. Two different cameras are also available: straight, and 30 degree oblique. The oblique camera can allow the surgeon to peek around corners.
Although visually similar to standard laparoscopic instruments, the robotic instruments have the additional advantage of being articulated.
This allows the instruments not only to open and close but to fully turn and twist, allowing more natural mimicry of the human hand and wrist. Unlike your hand these instruments are much smaller. Many of the jaws of the tools are similar or shorter in length than your fingernail. This allows very small and precise incisions.
Standard laparoscopic instruments are manipulated counter-intuitively or 'backwards'. The surgeon operates one end of the instrument which acts like a lever-push one end down and the other end goes up. Push right to make the instrument go left. This is similar to a teeter-totter, where the center is the port or entrance to the body cavity.
Thus for standard laparoscopic procedure, the surgeon has learned to operate essentially backwards. Although difficult, a highly qualified surgeon can master this process. The Da Vinci robot does NOT have these limitiations. The robot-slave technology translates a surgeons hand movements exactly as he/she does them. Turn your wrist right and the articulated robotic wrist turns right; go up, the robot wrist move up, etc. in three dimensions.
The robot also allows the surgeon to 'scale' their hand movements. A large hand movemement at the console can be translated into a micro precise dissection or exposure. The robot can also filter out hand tremors, enhancing precision. Another of the many benefits of this system is that it significantly reduces surgeon fatigue associated with traditional laparoscopic surgery by allowing the surgeon to remain in a natural, comfortable position while operating.