The surgeon for sure! Robotic surgical systems currently used simply replicate the movements of the surgeon in the console. They do reduce any hand tremor that a surgeon may have and this is beneficial. You can think of the robotic system as no different from a modern airplane or even automobile. The person operating the car or the automobile moves the controls or steering wheel and the airplane or automobile responds. The robotic instruments are extensions of the surgeon’s hands in many ways.

The robotic system is like a video game but with higher stakes. It may be that future surgical systems will include autonomous actions, but not currently. In fact, the FDA requires that large red “off button” be at the console so that if the robotic system should ever do something the surgeon doesn’t like, it can be inactivated! Fortunately, I have never seen this or needed that switch but it’s nice to know it’s there!

Category: Questions about Robotic Cardiac Surgery Procedures
T. Sloane Guy, MD

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