Intuitive Surgical's da Vinci Surgical System consists of a cart outfitted with mechanical limbs that end in pencil-size, teleoperated surgical tools and a high-resolution camera.
Inserted into the patient through tiny incisions, the instruments are controlled by a surgeon wielding joysticklike levers. The robot digitally mirrors the surgeon's hands while scaling down his or her motions and removing any tremor: to the surgeon at the helm, an artery is like a garden hose. The first person to put the $1-million da Vinci to work after its July clearance by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration was William E. Kelley of the Richmond Surgical Group in Virginia. He has since performed several dozen gallbladder removals, hernia repairs and other operations with robotic