One of the many benefits of being married to an awesome ear surgeon is that when our First Lego League (FLL) team decided that they wanted to tackle the Body Forward Engineering Meets Medicine project, he was able to arrange a visit to the operating room at St. Peter’s Hospital where we were able to get a firsthand look at a cutting edge surgical robot right here in Albany.
Meet da Vinci®, the surgical robot that urologists at St. Peter’s Hospital use for prostatectomies:
Each of the arms on this baby can hold a device such as the camera which transmits a feed to the big screen, or this probe whose function I don’t want to know.
Apparently, this is the new and improved, slimmed down version of the da Vinci robot. I’m told that the older model was a behemoth, but the latest technology is still reminiscent of those 1960s computers that filled a room to provide the kind of memory now stored on an iPhone.
During the operation, the patient remains on a bed at the center of the room, while the robotic arms move toward the surgical site. However, there are also several components to the da Vinci that are spread out around the room, including a control unit that reminds me of the video game consoles at home.
Since the team is trying to come up with ideas for improving medical technology, we asked what could be done to make the da Vinci even better. Some suggestions for future engineers:
- Make it smaller.
- Make it mobile.
- Improve tactile feedback.
We’ll get right on it!