Rewriting Life

Robotic Surgery at Children's Hospital Boston

Hiep Nguyen, a surgeon at Children’s Hospital Boston, is pioneering new, minimally invasive surgical techniques using a surgical robot.

Mar 24, 2010
The surgical robot offers three-dimensional vision and articulated tips on the surgical tools that go inside the patient, allowing for smaller, finer movements than traditional laparoscopy.
To perform procedures, surgeons sit at a console across the room from the patient. The console provides a stereoscopic view inside a patient’s body. The surgeon controls the tools that top the robot’s arms via two multi-jointed handles on the console.
The robot has three arms–one with an imaging endoscope, and two with surgical grippers that can hold tissue for cutting or thread for suturing.
Nguyen, who specializes in pediatric and robotic surgeries, says the robot has proven helpful in operating on children, who are smaller and therefore more difficult to treat laparoscopically.
A surgeon reviews the patient’s chart before surgery. He is preparing to operate on an eight-year-old girl to fix a blocked kidney.
Traditional laparoscopic tools are stiff, making it difficult to move them within the body cavity.
Doctors prepare the patient for surgery.
A nurse covers the robot with sterile plastic before it is wheeled over to the patient.
Before bringing the robot to the operating table, surgeons begin the procedure with a traditional laparoscopic endoscope. Screens poised above their heads project the view inside the body.
The robot is positioned over the patient.
The stereoscopic viewer provides a three-dimensional image, which gives surgeons a better sense of the tools’ position relative to tissue.
One console on the surgical robot is named Wall-E, after the trash-collecting robot in Pixar’s animated film. The second console, named Eva after another character in the same movie, is a unique feature of the newest version of the robot. It allows two surgeons to operate together.