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5 SLS Experts Discuss the Current State of Robotic-assisted Surgery and Training the Next Generation of Surgeons

During an open forum panel discussion as part of Virtual SLS MIS 2021, five SLS experts discussed the next levels of minimally invasive, robotic-assisted surgery from its impact on training future surgeons to enabling surgeons to transform healthcare.

Editor’s note: Responses have been paraphrased for brevity.

  • Raymond Lanzafame, MD, MBA, FACS, Executive Director, Chairman, Scientific Chair of SLS
  • William E. Kelley, MD, Former Director of General Surgery, at Henrico Doctor’s Hospital, Past president of SLS
  • Mona Orady, MD, Director of Robotic Surgery Services at Saint Francis Memorial Hospital, VP of SLS
  • Richard M. Satava, MD, FACS, Professor Emeritus of Surgery at the Univ. of Washington, Advisor to SLS
  • Paul G. Toomey, MD, President and CEO Florida Surgical Specialists, Secretary-Treasurer of SLS

Four insights from the discussion:

  1. Robotic-assisted surgery has changed the landscape and scope of minimally invasive surgery.
    The introduction of robotic-assisted surgery 20 years ago has shifted a majority of procedures from an open to a laparoscopic procedure or robotic-assisted surgery. The advent of robotic-assisted surgery has changed the landscape of minimally invasive surgery by allowing surgeons to push the limits of minimally invasive surgery to do more and more complex procedures – There’s almost no limit to the possibilities of robotic-assisted surgery. [Mona Orady, MD; Raymond Lanzafame, MD]
  2. Robotic-assisted surgery has surpassed all of the barriers that challenge new technologies and will revolutionize surgery.
    Robotic-assisted surgery is now accepted as one of the standard methodologies that surgeons use in patient care. It is stable and accepted at nearly 6000 systems globally with millions of procedures having been performed. As we move into the digital age, the robot has become a global instrument; it is not limited to one’s own operating room or hospital. Everything is connected, and no other part of surgery has that capability except perhaps some components of image guided surgery. [Richard M. Satava, MD, FACS; Mona Orady, MD]
  3. The current challenge for residency programs is to supply the breadth of training necessary for the current surgical landscape.
    We’re seeing different levels of robotic-assisted surgery capabilities when residents come out of training, where some can only dock the patient cart, some can operate, and some are completely safe with performing the entire robotic-assisted operation. The current challenge for residency programs is to supply the breadth of training necessary for the current surgical landscape, not just open and laparoscopic as well as endoluminal surgery, but also robotic. We have to create a balance in training so that the next generation of surgeons can do all of these procedure types with equal and exceptional insight, experience, and judgement. [Paul G. Toomey, MD; William E. Kelley, MD; Raymond Lanzafame, MD, MBA, FACS]
  4. Simulation is experience
    Simulation training is utilized in many different disciplines, such as the by military or for pilots and astronauts. Simulation provides the indispensable experience and feedback. The beauty of simulation, of course, is you have permission to fail, and nobody is harmed in the simulation. Simulation not only allows you to maintain skills and learn from experience, but it allows you to measure your performance and determine the quality of your performance before you actually go out and operate on a patient. It’s time for healthcare to get on board and integrate the next generation of skill and procedure-based simulation. [Richard M. Satava, MD, FACS]

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