Robots have found a role in some surgical procedures. Robotic devices are steadier, and are capable of being manipulated more precisely, than any human hand.

Drilling in the skull is one application for which robots have been used. This technique was pioneered by Dr. Yik San Kwo, an electrical engineer at Memorial Medical Center in Southern California. The drilling apparatus is positioned by software derived from a computerized X-ray scan, called a computerized axial tomography (CAT) scan, of the brain. All of the robotic operation is overseen by a human surgeon.

Numerous applications for robots in surgery have been suggested. One of the more promising ideas involves using a teleoperated robot controlled by a surgeon’s hands. The surgeon observes the procedure while going through the motions, but the actual contact with the patient is carried out entirely by the machine. Human hands always tremble a little. As a surgeon gains experience, he or she also grows older, and the trembling increases. The teleoperated robot would eliminate this problem, allowing surgeons with much experience (but limited dexterity) to perform critical operations.

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