Are robots today in competition with surgeons?

In a world where the precision capabilities of robots are beginning to outpace human skill, cutting-edge technology is being transferred to the operating room. We bring you the story of da Vinci, a robotic surgical assistant that’s dexterity rivals that of the human hand.

TRANSCRIPT

IN A WORLD WHERE THE PRECISION CAPABILITIES OF ROBOTS ARE BEGINNING TO OUTPACE HUMAN SKILL, CUTTING-EDGE TECHNOLOGY IS BEING TRANSFERRED TO THE OPERATING ROOM.

DA VINCI IS A ROBOTIC SURGICAL SYSTEM WHOSE DEXTERITY RIVALS THE HUMAN HAND.

REPORTER BRIANA VANNOZZI HAS THE STORY.

TINY ROBOTIC HANDS CONTROLLED BY A SURGEON ARE MIMICKING PRECISE SUTURES ON HUMAN TISSUE.

YOU CAN TAKE THIS NEEDLE AND REALLY MOVE IT ANY WHICH WAY.

THIS IS DA VINCI, THE MULTITASKING, MULTI-ARMED, MULTIMILLION-DOLLAR SURGICAL ROBOT.

THEY HAVE MOTION THAT IS FAR GREATER THAN THE HUMAN HAND OR FINGERS.

SO IT ALLOWS US THAT DEXTERITY TO GET INTO NARROW SPACES AND DO MANEUVERS MINIMALLY INVASIVELY THAT WERE NOT POSSIBLE BEFORE.

ROBOTIC SURGERY HAS HAD ITS KINKS OVER THE YEARS.

SINCE DA VINCI PREMIERED 15 YEARS AGO, THERE HAVE BEEN SEVERAL FALLOUTS OVER ITS SUCCESS COMPARED TO TRADITIONAL NONINVASIVE OR LAPAROSCOPIC PROCEDURES.

BUT DOCTORS ARE FINDING THE SYSTEM IS IMPROVING PATIENTS' LIVES, AND THEY'RE ENCOURAGING FELLOW PRACTITIONERS TO GET TRAINED.

INSTEAD OF MAKING A 12- TO 16-INCH INCISION THAT IS TRADITIONALLY MADE FOR OPEN SURGERY, WE'RE USING MULTIPLE 1/4-INCH OR SMALLER INCISIONS.

SO, CLEARLY, THERE'S MUCH LESS PAIN AFTER SURGERY.

THERE IS MUCH QUICKER RECOVERY FOR PATIENTS, WITH A SHORTER HOSPITALIZATION AND RETURN TO THEIR BASELINE LIVES MUCH QUICKER.

THIS ENTIRE SYSTEM TRANSLATES TO A SURGEON'S HAND.

ONE TINY MANEUVER WITH THIS ARM, AND IT COULD BE A 360-DEGREE ROTATION.

THAT'S SOMETHING I COULDN'T QUITE GET THE HANG OF WHEN I TRIED MY HAND AT IT.

CLOSE YOUR MIDDLE FINGER AND YOUR THUMB ON BOTH ENDS.

OH, WOW.

AND YOU'RE IN CONTROL.

IT WAS TRADITIONALLY USED FOR HYSTERECTOMIES, HERNIA REPAIRS, PROSTATE AND CANCER REMOVAL, BUT NOW --

WE'RE USING THE STATE-OF-THE-ART TECHNOLOGY FOR G.I., OR GASTROINTESTINAL, DISEASES AND CANCERS.

WE'RE USING IT FOR COLON AND RECTAL CANCERS.

WE'RE USING IT FOR CARDIOTHORACIC PROCEDURES INCLUDING BOTH VALVES, AND LUNG CANCERS.

DR. TANUJA DAMANI AT ST. JOSEPH'S MEDICAL CENTER IN PATERSON CONTROLS THE ROBOT THROUGH THE COMPUTER SCREEN.

IT'S A LOT LIKE BEING PART OF A 3D VIDEO GAME.

IT GIVES US A 10-TIMES MAGNIFICATION COMPARED TO NAKED EYE, AND GIVES US A THREE-DIMENSIONAL VIEW WHICH IS HIGH DEFINITION.

SHE SAYS THEY'VE SEEN MORE PATIENTS PUTTING OFF SURGERIES BECAUSE THEY'RE UNABLE OR WORRIED ABOUT TAKING TIME OFF FROM WORK.

THAT OFTEN RESULTS IN GREATER COMPLICATIONS.

BUT THIS SURGERY NEGATES THAT.

I WAITED ABOUT A YEAR, YEAR AND A HALF, AND THEN IT JUST GOT RIDICULOUS.

PATIENT LIDYANA CALLE-VEGA SAYS SHE WAS CONVINCED TO HAVE THE SURGERY AFTER BEING TOLD SHE'D BE BACK AT WORK WITHIN A WEEK.

I WAS IN THE OPERATING ROOM AT 7:00 A.M.

I WAS OUT OF THE OPERATING ROOM AT 11:30.

I WAS WALKING OUT OF THE HOSPITAL AT 3:00.

AND AT 7:00 P.M. THAT NIGHT, I WAS OUTSIDE, PLAYING WITH MY DOGS.

SURGEONS SAY, AS WITH ANY PROCEDURE, THE PROGNOSIS DEPENDS ON THE PATIENT AND CONDITION.

THEY'RE HOPING THE MORE IT'S USED, THE MORE COMFORTABLE PEOPLE WILL BE WITH THE HIGH-TECH HELPER.