Robotic Surgery Timeline

It was 1921, when Karel Čapek invented the term “Robot” for a fictional humanoid in a play named R.U.R. ‘Rossum's Universal Robots’ (1920). Decades later, robots are used everywhere, from vacuuming floors and mowing lawns to assembling products from automobiles to computers. “Robotics”, a science first envisioned by the late science fact and fiction author Dr. Isaac Asimov in 1941. His famous “three laws of robotics” are a recurring theme in his books.

The first robot to assist in surgery was the Arthrobot, which was developed and used for the first time in Vancouver in 1983. The first use of the Robot in prostate surgery was in 1992, when the PROBOT, developed at Imperial College London, was used to perform prostatic surgery by Dr. Senthil Nathan at Guy's and St Thomas' Hospital, London.

Robotic Surgery is actually an imprecise term. The Surgical Robot is actually a complex machine controlled entirely by a surgeon who uses a remote console linked to a computer, which filters the movements of the surgeon's hands and moves the robotic arms. These men and women have developed the skills needed to treat patients with minimally invasive surgical tools aided by High-definition 3-D vision and tiny surgical instruments.  A better term might be: Computer Assisted Minimally Invasive Surgery.

Robotic Surgery operating room, Vattikuti Urology Institute, Henry Ford Hospital, Detroit.

The first urologic robotic program in the world was built at the Vattikuti Urology Institute, Henry Ford Hospital Detroit, Michigan, in 2000 under the vision of surgical innovator, Dr. Mani Menon.  His first technique using the new da Vinci robot was for the radical prostatectomy. The robot-assisted radical prostatectomy continues being refined with techniques to improve perioperative and surgical outcomes. The application of robotic surgical technique has since been expanded to other urologic procedures, including kidney transplantation. Several other surgical specialties have also found safe, successful uses for the robot: Head and Neck/ENT, Bariatric, Gynecology, Colorectal, Thoracic, Gastrointestinal, Cardiology, General Surgery and Pediatrics. The evolution of surgical technique and its expansion of application will continue to improve quality, outcome parameters and experience for the patients.  It would not have happened without 3 crucial factors: an innovative idea, an experienced surgeon with tremendous foresight, and considerable philanthropic funding. In keeping with the legacy of Henry Ford and the spirit of innovation, we sought to develop and improve upon techniques of minimally invasive prostate surgery. Initially, Dr. Mani Menon and his colleagues adopted a laparoscopic approach for radical prostatectomy in collaboration with Dr. Guy Vallencien and Dr. Bertrand Guillaneau, skilled surgeons from France. However, it became apparent that due to the different body habitus of American men compared to Europeans, the laparoscopic approach was not as comparable to the retropubic approach as expected. The advent of a robotic surgical system approved for cardiac surgery offered a potential solution. Dr. Menon's experience informed his foresight in seeking to apply the surgical robot to urologic surgery. With the generous support from the Raj and Padma Vattikuti Foundation, a perfect storm gathered to initiate our journey into the robotic era.  

~Please note: this is not a complete history.  The above paragraph (edited, with additional information added for this website) is from:  Past, present and future of urological robotic surgery
Authors: Drs. Wooju Jeong, Ramesh Kumar and Mani Menon, published in the journal Investigative and Clinical Urology, March 2016 PubMed:

Please enjoy this Timeline, which is an attempt to encapsulate the history of robotic surgery listing the developments so far…