In the past few decades, minimally invasive surgery (MIS) or so called keyhole surgery has been developed by innovative surgeons to decrease the size of incision. MIS is operated by using a laparoscope and special instruments to see and operate through small holes into the body of patient. Smaller incisions lead to less trauma and risk of infection for the patient, resulting in a faster recovery. However, MIS surgeon loses his/her 3D perception of the surgical site and natural hand eye coordination. It is not easy to learn and master the skill with the training of picking beans or surgery on pigs. These problems limit the number of capable surgeons and restrict MIS in complicated surgical cases. Still, MIS is broadly used in various kinds of surgery, such as in General surgery, Urology and Gynecology etc. There are over 10 million procedures were performed in the US and Europe in 2006.
Robot assisted surgery has been developed since the 1980s due to its programmability, precision, tremor reduction, and non-tiredness. Robots have been applied in orthopedics, neurology, ophthalmology, and in this case Minimally Invasive Surgery. Two types of Robot Assisted-MIS exist: a simple camera holder robot holds the laparoscope to provide steady vision and save personnel cost during MIS. It is applicable to most of the MIS procedures but its clinical value is limited. The second type is the daVinci surgical system® of Intuitive Surgical Inc, which is the most sophisticated system and the only one capable for complete MIS procedure. It restores the lost dexterity and vision to help surgeon with minimal learning to achieve mature surgical performance. However, until now none of these robots are capable to provide an economical solution with functionality.
Since 2000, a team led by Prof. Hendrik Van Brussel, explores and investigates the usability of robot systems during surgery. The team is composed of both engineers and surgeons working together in a synergetic way with the aim of exploiting the benefits of robotics to medical and surgical procedures in order to enhance the quality of surgery in an economically justifiable way. This interdisciplinary team has already successfully demonstrated the advantages in accuracy, in speed and in learning curve of robotized laser laparoscopy. Other contributions have been made in providing haptic and tactile feedback in robotized minimally invasive surgery.