Monday, January 24, 2011

Time Magazine: Meet Dr. Robot

A story from last week's print edition of Time Magazine featured the use of robotics in adult surgery. It's a decent outline of the pros and cons of the current debate about cost vs. benefit for robotic surgery in adults, based on the current technology in use. Though widely used in adults, robotic surgical techniques for children are still fairly limited. The number is growing, but at present only a handful of children's hospitals in the United States are using the technology. In the fall, Children's National appointed urologist Craig Peters, MD, as chief of Surgical Innovation, Technology, and Translation and principal investigator in the Sheikh Zayed Institute. Dr. Peters's work focuses on adapting robotic surgical techniques, and the teaching of these techniques, into more aspects of pediatric surgical care.

The Time article highlights the heated discussion about robotics by experts in the field of surgical technology. But author David von Drehle also points out just how important thinking creatively and focusing on innovation in medicine can be to developing better therapies for the future.

"Other robotic advances offer tantalizing glimpses of a mechanized medical future. By marrying high-tech imaging machinery to robotic tools, surgeons may journey into even more-remote, less accessible regions of the body with perfect surgical precision."

These possibilities sound familiar to the faculty at the Sheikh Zayed Institute, who came to Children's National in order to work collaboratively on techniques, therapies, and devices that will make surgery for children less invasive, more precise, and possibly even one day pain free. As part of that work, Dr. Peters and the team from the bioengineering initiative will work to develop new and better techniques in robotics, imaging, and other minimally invasive surgeries, just like those outlined above, but tailored specifically to the unique needs of children.

Read the full story in Time.

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