Patients today are the most enthusiastic boosters of robotic surgery, contrary to 20th century science fiction writers such as Isaac Asimov and others' prediction that people would react negatively to robots with fear and loathing.
Researchers at the Jewish General Hospital's Lady Davis Institute for Medical Research in Montreal have revealed that robot-assisted surgery has tremendous benefits for patients with uterine, endometrial, and cervical cancer.
They also said that robotic procedures were comparatively less expensive because of fewer post-operative complications and shorter hospital stays.
Till date, adoption of robotic surgery has been slowed by fears that it will raise overall healthcare costs. In Canada, robotic procedures are not yet covered by any provincial healthcare plan.
"To the contrary, robotic surgery definitely benefits patients and society," said Walter H. Gotlieb.
"The patient's quality of life is dramatically improved, their hospital stays are much shorter and they use far less narcotic pain medication. The majority of our patients need nothing stronger than Tylenol," he added.
In a robot-assisted operating room, the physician sits at a computer console and manipulates multiple robot arms, rather than working directly on the patient.
The technology was developed to overcome the limitations of minimally invasive surgery (MIS), including such notoriously difficult procedures as laparoscopy for cancer.
"Laparoscopy is the gold standard of treatment for endometrial cancer, but unfortunately the learning curve is too steep for most surgeons," said Gotlieb.
"At the Jewish General Hospital, we went from only 15 percent of our endometrial cancer patients benefiting from MIS by laparoscopy to 95 percent using robotic surgery. In cervical cancer we did not perform MIS at all before, whereas now all of our patients benefit from it," he added.
The results have been published in The Journal of Robotic Surgery and The International Journal of Gynecological Cancer.