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Surg Endosc. 2013 May;27(5):1681-8. doi: 10.1007/s00464-012-2656-y. Epub 2012 Dec 13.

Toward increased autonomy in the surgical OR: needs, requests, and expectations.

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  • 1Department of Surgery, Klinikum Rechts der Isar, Technische Universität München, 81675 München, Germany.



The current trend in surgery toward further trauma reduction inevitably leads to increased technological complexity. It must be assumed that this situation will not stay under the sole control of surgeons; mechanical systems will assist them. Certain segments of the work flow will likely have to be taken over by a machine in an automatized or autonomous mode.


In addition to the analysis of our own surgical practice, a literature search of the Medline database was performed to identify important aspects, methods, and technologies for increased operating room (OR) autonomy.


Robotic surgical systems can help to increase OR autonomy by camera control, application of intelligent instruments, and even accomplishment of automated surgical procedures. However, the important step from simple task execution to autonomous decision making is difficult to realize. Another important aspect is the adaption of the general technical OR environment. This includes adaptive OR setting and context-adaptive interfaces, automated tool arrangement, and optimal visualization. Finally, integration of peri- and intraoperative data consisting of electronic patient record, OR documentation and logistics, medical imaging, and patient surveillance data could increase autonomy.


To gain autonomy in the OR, a variety of assistance systems and methodologies need to be incorporated that endorse the surgeon autonomously as a first step toward the vision of cognitive surgery. Thus, we require establishment of model-based surgery and integration of procedural tasks. Structured knowledge is therefore indispensable.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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