Robotic general surgery: current practice, evidence, and perspective

Langenbecks Arch Surg. 2015 Apr;400(3):283-92. doi: 10.1007/s00423-015-1278-y. Epub 2015 Feb 18.


Background: Robotic technology commenced to be adopted for the field of general surgery in the 1990s. Since then, the da Vinci surgical system (Intuitive Surgical Inc, Sunnyvale, CA, USA) has remained by far the most commonly used system in this domain. The da Vinci surgical system is a master-slave machine that offers three-dimensional vision, articulated instruments with seven degrees of freedom, and additional software features such as motion scaling and tremor filtration. The specific design allows hand-eye alignment with intuitive control of the minimally invasive instruments. As such, robotic surgery appears technologically superior when compared with laparoscopy by overcoming some of the technical limitations that are imposed on the surgeon by the conventional approach.

Purpose: This article reviews the current literature and the perspective of robotic general surgery.

Conclusions: While robotics has been applied to a wide range of general surgery procedures, its precise role in this field remains a subject of further research. Until now, only limited clinical evidence that could establish the use of robotics as the gold standard for procedures of general surgery has been created. While surgical robotics is still in its infancy with multiple novel systems currently under development and clinical trials in progress, the opportunities for this technology appear endless, and robotics should have a lasting impact to the field of general surgery.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • General Surgery / instrumentation*
  • Humans
  • Robotics*
  • Surgery, Computer-Assisted / instrumentation*