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The dawn of robotic surgery in otolaryngology: head and neck surgery


Transoral robotic surgery (TORS) utilizing the da Vinci robotic system has opened a new era for minimally-invasive surgery (MIS) in Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery. Awareness of the historical steps in developing robotic surgery (RS) and understanding its current application within our field can help open our imaginations to future of the surgical robotics. We compiled a historical perspective on the evolution of surgical robotics, the road to the da Vinci surgical system, and conducted a review of TORS regarding clinical applications and limitations, prospective clinical trials and current status in Japan. We also provided commentary on the future of surgical robotics within our field. Surgical robotics grew out of the pursuit of telerobotics and the advances in robotics for non-medical applications. Today in our field, cancers and diseases of oropharynx and supraglottis are the most common indications for RS. It has proved capable of preserving the laryngopharyngeal function without compromising oncologic outcomes, and reducing the intensity of adjuvant therapy. TORS has become a standard modality for MIS, and will continue to evolve in the future. As robotic surgical systems evolve with improved capabilities in visual augmentation, spatial navigation, miniaturization, force-feedback and cost-effectiveness, we will see further advances in the current indications, and an expansion of indications. By promoting borderless international collaborations that put 'patients first', the bright future of surgical robotics will synergistically expand to the limits of our imaginations.

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