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The Health Show: Robotic Surgery
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The Health Show: Robotic Surgery
Augmented reality is coming to robotic surgery. Here, surgeons test the use of medical scans projected over their camera views, providing an annotated navigational display for patient Gary Keane's prostatectomy.
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Produced by Rockhopper TV.

Originally broadcast as part of The Health Show.

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Segment 1

TITLE
The Health Show
DR. JUSTIN VALE [Surgeon, Imperial College Healthcare, UK]
Keep going at that angle...
VOICEOVER
Cutting edge medicine: robotic surgery in action. These robotic arms, including a powerful camera, are slid into the patient through small incisions. At the end of the arms are the surgeon's tools.
DR. JUSTIN VALE
So the robot is now fully docked. Okay.
VOICEOVER
This patient has prostate cancer. It's about to be removed. The surgeon sits at a separate console, away from the patient. Each hand action is translated into much smaller movements by the robot.
DR. JUSTIN VALE
The reason why surgeons like the technology so much is that it's scaled, so that I might move my hand two centimeters for example and the robotic hand will only move one centimeter. You can filter out people's tremors for example, by virtue of the fact that you can scale the instruments.
VOICEOVER
Now, robotic surgery is about to get even more sophisticated. This team is testing out the use of medical scans projected over what the surgeon can actually see. This is among the latest, most pioneering work of its kind. They call it, "augmented reality."
DR. JUSTIN VALE
The idea of augmented reality is to give the surgeon a display a bit like a fighter pilot's display so he can look out the cockpit window, but at the same time he gets information on his screen. You can start to give him other visual feeds that may be helpful. At its most advanced form, you would actually be able to overlay an image taken from a patient's preoperative scans so that the surgeon could actually see in his display exactly where structures are. If we take that overlay that we looked at earlier to show us the anatomy, you can see we've superimposed -- very stylized -- a pelvis. The green structure there is the prostate; the purple structure there superimposed is the bladder.
VOICEOVER
The patient, whose cancer was diagnosed earlier in the year, explains why he opted for robotic surgery.
GARY KEANE
Six members of my family have died in the past of cancer of one form or another. I was given all of the options, radiotherapy, the normal prostatectomy, or robotic. But in the end I decided on robotic because it's less intrusive and quicker.
VOICEOVER
The operation was a success. The whole prostate is removed. Other advances in robotic surgery are also in the pipeline.
DR. JUSTIN VALE
I think that we're on the start of a journey with robotic surgery. I don't think in the future robots will be this large. They will be much smaller devices. Big advances are going to be around things like augmented reality, active constraint stopping surgeons wandering where they shouldn't be. And once you start to do that you can even envisage a time when surgical robots may be true robots and capable of autonomous movement. Hopefully not before I've retired but I think eventually it will come.