The FDA approved Intuitive Surgical’s da Vinci surgical system not as a robotic system
but as a tele-manipulated medical device. Nevertheless, the device has been called a surgical robot by the press and also by Catherine Mohr, an Intuitive Surgical director (and professor at Stanford).
Mohr recently wrote a Freakonomics NY Times piece explaining why minimally invasive robotic surgeries are cheaper than open or laparoscopic surgeries.
An increasing array of procedures are performed by the da Vinci system, the most recent being hand surgery.
Duke University is testing fully autonomous medical procedures such as prostate and breast biopsies and autopsies.
China’s University Hospital of Tianjin is using a tele-manipulated surgical assistant (named “Little Hand”) similar to the da Vinci system.
Israel’s Mazor Surgical Technologies has FDA approval for their SpineAssist robotic system which enables simulation and precise targeting and placement for intricate spinal implant operations. The robot enables the surgeon to improve accuracy from an estimated 3 millimeters to one-half millimeter.