da Vinci Surgery is Born

Surgery Evolution

da Vinci SurgeryIn the late 1980s DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) funded several of these institutions to research the possibility of a remote surgery program targeted toward battlefield triage. Similar to the robotic drones (planes) available today and used in foreign conflicts, the idea was to replace human medics with robots and minimize human casualties. It turns out the idea of a robotic medic was flawed due to its vulnerability to tracking devices and changing policies about how and where wounded soldiers are treated.

However, as a result of the funding from DARPA, significant advancements were made toward telepresence at many institutions. For example, SRI was responsible for developing a "telepresence surgery system." The preliminary schematic drawing of this system eventually influenced the da Vinci design. Other notable achievements were the IBM-developed remote center technology and the MIT-developed cable-driven technology for low-friction manipulators which are also used in today’s da Vinci System. 

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All surgery presents risk, including da Vinci® Surgery and other minimally invasive procedures.  Serious complications may occur in any surgery, up to and including death. Examples of serious or life-threatening complications which may require hospitalization include injury to tissues or organs, bleeding, infection or internal scarring that can cause long-lasting dysfunction or pain. Temporary pain or nerve injury has been linked to the inverted position often used during abdominal and pelvic surgery. Risks of surgery also include potential for equipment failure and human error. Risks specific to minimally invasive surgery may include: A long operation and time under anesthesia, conversion to another technique or the need for additional or larger incisions.  If your surgeon needs to convert the procedure, it could mean a long operative time with additional time under anesthesia and increased complications. Temporary pain or discomfort may result from pneumoperitoneum, the presence of air or gas in the abdominal cavity used by surgeons in minimally invasive surgery. Research suggests that there could be an increased risk of incision-site hernia with single-incision surgery. Results, including cosmetic results, may vary.  Patients who bleed easily, who have abnormal blood clotting, are pregnant or morbidly obese are typically not candidates for minimally invasive surgery, including da Vinci® Surgery. For more complete information on surgical risks, safety, and indications for use, please refer to Patients should talk to their doctors about their surgical experience and to decide if da Vinci Surgery is right for them. Other options may be available. Intuitive Surgical reviews clinical literature from the highest level of evidence available to provide benefit and risk information about use of the da Vinci Surgical System in specific representative procedures. We encourage patients and physicians to review all available information on surgical options and treatment in order to make an informed decision. Clinical studies are available through the National Library of Medicine at

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