The Da Vinci Surgical Robot is a massive machine operated by a surgeon from a console with joystick-like controls. It was designed to give surgeons a range of movement greater than the human hand, and allows them to perform abdominal surgeries without cutting open the stomach. During a Da Vinci procedure, robotic arms are placed in the patient to burn away tissue, so a diseased organ can be removed. Ideally, use of the Da Vinci Surgical System in minimally invasive surgery should lead to less blood loss, much smaller scars and a faster recovery for the patient.
A single Da Vinci Surgical Robot can cost over a $1 million, but their high cost has not deterred hospitals from investing in this technology. According to a report published by the Chicago Tribune in February 2012, 250,000 hysterectomies and prostate removal surgeries were done with the Da Vinci system in 2011. Surgeons are now expanding use of the machines in other procedures, from gastric bypasses to thyroid cancer surgeries. It was recently approved by U.S. regulators for gall bladder surgery. Unfortunately, few randomized studies have been conducted to demonstrate that patients do best if procedures are performed with the Da Vinci. Regulation of such devices by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration is also light, the report said.
According to The Wall Street Journal, Intuitive Surgical has marketed the Da Vinci to hospitals as a way for them to increase their revenues and gain market share. Critics have also expressed concerns about the way surgeons are trained on the Da Vinci. When a hospital purchases a robot, Intuitive Surgical pays for a two-day training course for two surgeons.
Several Da Vinci Surgical Robot lawsuits involving Da Vinci Surgical Robot procedures allege that patients have suffered serious, and even deadly, injuries including.
- Surgical Burns to Arteries or Organs
- Peritonitis (painful and tender inflammation of the lining of the abdomen)
- Excessive bleeding
- Burning of nearby organs including the intestines
- Punctured blood vessels, organs or arteries
- Burns and/or tears of the intestines
- Severe bowel injuries
- Punctured or cut ureters
- Vaginal cuff dehiscence (reopening of the incision made to remove the uterus and cervix during a hysterectomy)
- Additional Surgical Procedures Following Robot Surgery