Grey’s Anatomy and The Good Doctor are some of the TV shows that have shown Intuitive Surgical’s medical technology. Although minimally invasive surgery can significantly benefit the patient, it can make the surgeon’s job harder. Intuitive Surgical’s da Vinci robotic-assisted systems make minimally invasive surgery without added difficulty to the surgeon possible. The BIE cohort had the opportunity to visit Intuitive Surgical in Sunnyvale California and learn more about this cutting-edge technology.
We began our visit with a brief background of the company. Founded in 1995, Intuitive Surgical’s technology has been used to perform more than 6 million procedures to date. Some of the current surgical applications for the use of the da Vinci are cardiac, colorectal, general, gynecology, thoracic, urology, head, and neck. All of Intuitive Surgical’s systems make it possible for the technology to extend surgical capabilities. Intuitive is well aware of the various stakeholders of their devices and strives to provide a product for everyone involved.
We were fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to try out the da Vinci Si for ourselves. Our host, Dale Bergman, Intuitive Surgical’s Research Coordinator, showed us how to use the device. The device consists of a surgeon’s console and a patient-side cart with four interactive robotic arms controlled from the console. Three of the arms are for tools to perform surgery while the fourth one is intended for the camera. The joint-wrist design of the arms exceeds the natural range of motion of the human hand. Ultimately, the device provides surgeons with greater visualization, enhanced dexterity, and superior precision. We got to experience this by using the console along with the patient-side cart. We also had the chance to use the simulator. The simulator gives you a specific task to perform and then rates your performance afterward. Surgeons can use this simulator to prepare for procedures and improve their performance by practicing.
Our visit ended with a quick tour of the manufacturing facility. The work stations are meticulously organized. Different colored tape is used to indicate where different parts and tools should go. Everything is clearly labeled. This helps prevent errors and losses. We were also informed that part suppliers and engineers are stationed in buildings fairly close to the assembly facility. This is to ensure that if an error was to occur, it could be resolved as quickly as possible. After a system is assembled entirely, it must go through an extensive quality inspection process to ensure that it is up to par.
The BIE Cohort would like to thank the Intuitive Surgical team for hosting this very exciting site visit and providing us with so much knowledge on device development.