The current generation of robotic surgical instruments is already capable of assisting surgeons in accomplishing complex laparoscopic operations. These machines and their successors will allow more surgeons to perform complex laparoscopic operations, because they make it easier to visualize and manipulate tissue. As time moves forward, and early adopters push the field, significantly more complex operations will be possible. Because the image stream can be digitized, these machines offer the promise of leaps forward in technology: radiologic image integration with visual anatomy, heart motion subtraction for beating heart surgery, and remote tele-surgery all become distinct possibilities in the near future.
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