CBS MarketWatch publishes “Five big medical advances of 2004”. In their humble opinion, one of the biggest developments of 2004 is a robotic surgical treatment of female infertility:
Women suffering from infertility who need surgery to correct the major causes such as fibroids, endometriosis and congenital abnormalities are beginning to see the benefits of the next step in minimally invasive surgery — robotics, said Dr. Camran Nezhat, president of the Society of Laparoendoscopic Surgeons and a clinical professor at Stanford University.
The robots “have specific characteristics that empower the surgeon to do a better job,” Nezhat said. “Robots give you an excellent three-dimensional view.”
They also help in suturing and controlling tremor, he said. “No matter how steady you are, you have a certain degree of tremor. Robots eliminate all the tremor from your hands.”
Robotics also has the potential to enable remote surgery so patients in rural regions could benefit from medical expertise concentrated in urban areas, he said. A patient in a small town in Alaska, for example, could have an assistant put instruments in his abdomen while a trained doctor like Nezhat performed the procedure from afar. “I would look at the images and do the surgery.”
Insurance companies cover the procedures, but hospitals are hard-pressed to afford too big a leap toward robotics since a machine can cost as much as $1.4 million, he said. “The cost is almost prohibitive.”
It is not clear how this $1.4 million system will make its way to a small town in Alaska. Oh well. Fine print strikes again…
Details at Intuitive Surgical.
The Kansas Star says that the “[v]erdict still out on cutting-edge robotics”.