Da Vinci Surgical System Photo

Precision robot arms maneuver microsurgical instruments through centimeter-long holes into the heart of a cadaver in a demonstration of minimally invasive surgery at Intuitive Surgical of Mountain View, California. Pencil-sized robotic surgical instruments allow heart surgeons to perform operations through a centimeter-long hole in the patient's chest. In a procedure that greatly lessens the need to cut into tissue - thus reducing postoperative pain and recovery time - doctors insert robotic instruments through minute "ports" in the body. Instead of hovering over the operating table, surgeons sit at a console a few feet - or, in theory, a continent - away, controlling the roboscalpels with a pair of joysticklike grippers. Each tool has a patented EndoWrist mechanism that allows it to move with the dexterity and precision of the human hand. The whole ensemble - console, tools, and operating table - was developed by the Stanford Research Institute, a nonprofit R & D center created by Stanford University. The system was commercialized by Intuitive Surgical; it now costs about $1 milliion. The da Vinci surgical system, as it is called, is now in use in Europe; although the da Vinci system has not yet been approved by the Food and Drug Administration, the first, experimental remote-control bypass in the United States took place in September 1999.

Origin of Name
Leonardo da Vinci, who was a scientist and an artist - just like many great surgeons who must reconstruct anatomy post-disease or injury

To perform more precise, less invasive surgery

3-D stereo
Our own - based on 4 Shark processors

Mayfield Fund, Morgan Stanley, Sierra Ventures, other private investors

Project Status
Complete - 11 systems installed (9 in Europe, 2 in the U.S.)
Information Source
Sheila Shah