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Definition: robotic surgery

Using robots in the operating room to assist the surgeon in performing surgery. The surgeon views the patient via a terminal and manipulates robotic surgical instruments via a control panel. Views of the organs being worked on are transmitted from tiny cameras inserted into the body.

Such robots are considerably less invasive than normal operating room procedures because the instruments can be inserted into much smaller incisions in the human body. This type of "laparoscopic" surgery means less pain and less scarring, and patients recover much faster.

Since the patient and surgeon are separated by an electronic console, it also enables "telesurgery," which allows the surgeon to perform the operation in a remote location. See telesurgery.

Robotic Operation
The surgeon on the left is performing a laparoscopic operation on the patient via robotic instruments from Intuitive Surgical. A traditional operating room procedure would require a much larger incision in order to accommodate the surgeon's hands. (Image courtesy of Intuitive Surgical, Inc., www.intuitivesurgical.com)