Robotic technology has been used in medicine for more than 30 years. Since then the robotic surgery space has been transformed by declining costs, new players entering the market and the rise of technologies such as AI and 5G.
Postpandemic, there has been an increase in demand for robotic surgery as the procedure allows for social distancing with lesser people around the patient. With this push, the growth of the Indian robotic-assisted surgical market is expected to reach Rs. 26 billion in 2024 expanding at a CAGR of 19.8%, according to a Research and Markets report.
As per a MINT Report, leading hospitals in India including Tata Memorial, Apollo Hospitals, Rajiv Gandhi Cancer Institute and Manipal Hospital are turning to robots to clear the backlog of elective surgeries after the covid-19 outbreak. The most common types of robotic surgery performed are cardiac & orthopaedic procedures, digestive, urological and gynaecological procedures.
Typically, in RAS (robotic assisted surgeries), a surgeon controls the robot through a specially designed surgeon console or station. This can be customized to fit as per the surgeon’s work pattern while allowing him to fully control the robotic wrist, view the surgical site in 3DHD and also minimize hand tremors. Apart from precision, the other benefits include lesser blood loss, lower chances of infection due to minimal invasive surgery and hence shorter recovery period.
Currently, the most commonly used RSAs include Da Vinci’s robotic system, Johnsons & Johnsons Ethicon, Verb Surgical, TransEnterix, Titan Medical, Hansen Medical etc. There is also a crop of emerging tech start-ups that are revolutionising this space. For example, ZAP Surgical Systems builds a radio-surgical robot for the non-invasive ablation of brain and neck tumors.
Dutch startup Microsure has developed MUSA – a robot that provides very high precision, control and stability for microsurgeons, enabling new interventions that are currently impossible to perform by hand. For example, MUSA can connect to vessels as small as 0.3mm while keeping the workflow structure unchanged.
The US-American company Auris Health builds Monarch, which incorporates flexible robotics, micro-instrumentation, data science and other technologies for therapeutic and diagnostic procedures. The platform integrates endoscopes, instruments, navigation and robotics into a single platform, allowing physicians to better conduct endoscopic interventions while always keeping their target in sight.
We believe that robotics will become an integral component of surgery in the future. However, the transition should be carefully monitored, risks and benefits rigorously evaluated, determining a safe role for robotics in each stage of its evolution.