What's known on the subject? and What does the study add?
Numerous urological procedures can now be performed with robotic assistance. Though not definitely proven to be superior to conventional laparoscopy or traditional open surgery in the setting of a randomised trial, in experienced centres robot-assisted surgery allows for excellent surgical outcomes and is a valuable tool to augment modern surgical practice.
Our review highlights the depth of history that underpins the robotic surgical platform we utilise today, whilst also detailing the current place of robot-assisted surgery in urology in 2011.
The evolution of robots in general and as platforms to augment surgical practice is an intriguing story that spans cultures, continents and centuries. A timeline from Yan Shi (1023–957 bc), Archytas of Tarentum (400 bc), Aristotle (322 bc), Heron of Alexandria (10–70 ad), Leonardo da Vinci (1495), the Industrial Revolution (1790), ‘telepresence’ (1950) and to the da Vinci® Surgical System (1999), shows the incredible depth of history and development that underpins the modern surgical robot we use to treat our patients. Robot-assisted surgery is now well-established in Urology and although not currently regarded as a ‘gold standard’ approach for any urological procedure, it is being increasingly used for index operations of the prostate, kidney and bladder. We perceive that robotic evolution will continue infinitely, securing the place of robots in the history of Urological surgery. Herein, we detail the history of robots in general, in surgery and in Urology, highlighting the current place of robot-assisted surgery in radical prostatectomy, partial nephrectomy, pyeloplasty and radical cystectomy.