Updated: Oct 21, 2021
At the confluence of advances in artificial intelligence, minimally invasive surgery, virtual surgical planning, and a growing social comfort with robotic assistance lies a fundamental distancing of the surgeon from the scalpel.
Societal acceptance of autonomous surgery may parallel aviation in that the acceptance will be slowly accepted through a human presence until that time when the outcomes exceed the capabilities of most surgeons or aviators.
Popular robotic systems offer enhanced visualization, reduced invasiveness, accelerated return to function, and decreased risk of infection. Today, most systems incorporate a human element and are used in manipulating soft tissue. Hard tissue procedures provide for stable landmarks that do not deform with pressure or manipulation. Coupled with high resolution imaging and real time navigation the transition to many hard tissue procedures is logical and imminent.
Remote robotic surgery would allow for experts to perform procedures on different continents or other worlds. Mars colonization would be greatly facilitated through remote or autonomous surgery. Signal transmission delays suggests that an autonomous device might yield better outcomes.
Traumatic injuries follow typical patterns by anatomic location, however, no two facial fractures are completely identical. Reducing facial fractures requires multiple angles of manipulation and bone reduction forceps to realign and reduce fractures for fixation. In planned facial osteotomies or tooth extraction, the ability of a robot to enact a surgical plan is much more likely to occur sooner.