What is the Da Vinci Surgical System?
The Da Vinci Surgical System is a large purpose-built robot controlled by a surgeon that performs minimally invasive surgical procedures on patients. The system incorporates an ergonomically designed surgeon's console, a patient-side module with four interactive robotic arms, each with interchangeable surgical instruments and a 3-dimensional endoscopic vision system. Powered by high-tech supercomputers, the surgeon's hand movements are scaled, filtered and then converted into precise movements of the surgical attachments. The designers of the system are a team of doctors, engineers and biomedical engineers at a company called Intuitive Surgical. The motivation that these designers had was to develop a surgical technique that would be minimally traumatic for patients and one that would speed up recovery time.
Figure 1: The Da Vinci Surgical System showing the surgeon's console and the patient-side module.
The Da Vinci robot is part of the Biomedical Engineering industry. The industry is concerned with the application of engineering principles and techniques to the medical field. It combines expertise from medical and engineering disciplines to improve healthcare systems. The industry is very innovative and most universities now offer training in biomedical engineering. This is because it has always been a highly specialised field and required a designer to have both medical and engineering training and experience. Research and development is a very important aspect of this industry and it is very draining on a company's funds. Great emphasis is also placed on product placement and marketing. Though these products are usually marketed towards industry professionals such as doctors and hospital management.
The physical location and layout of the enterprise
The company is located in the U.S.A in California.
Figure 2: The company headquarters
Nature of the innovation
As mentioned before the Da Vinci robot consists of two parts, the surgeon's console and a patient-side operating module.
During an operation the surgeon is seated comfortably at the console while viewing a 3-d image and controlling the robot.
This imaging system allows the surgeon to see an enhanced 3-dimensional view of the operative field and it provides direct eye-hand-instrument alignment and natural depth perception. This is possible through the use of a dual lens endoscope with two high-resolution cameras.
Figure 2: The Endoscope with two cameras and a specialised light The image is fed through two independent vision channels that then run through an image processing stabilising computer system. The computer reduces the "noise" of the image and enhances the edges of the objects seen. The surgeon can also control the movement and zoom of the endoscope camera through hand controls and foot pedals. The resultant image is then projected on a high-resolution 3-D monitor.
Figure 3: The 3-D image monitor
The surgeon's fingers crasp onto a joystick-like perpheril instrument which then controls the precise movements of the robotic arms. The device also gives the surgeon a sense of touch by giving feedback as to how hard or how soft the tissue is inside the patient.
Figure 4: Control device
The computer system translates the surgeon's hand, wrist and finger movements into precise, real-time movements of surgical instruments inside the patient.
Patient-side operating module
The part of the robot that actually performs the operation consists of either three or four robotic arms. It can be configured to have two or three instrument arms and one endoscope arm.
Figure 5: The operating module with three operating arms and one endoscope (2nd from the left)
These robotic arms are inserted into the patient's body through small incisions of 1-2cm long....