Pediatric Surgery International

, Volume 31, Issue 12, pp 1119–1125 | Cite as

Robotic surgery in children: adopt now, await, or dismiss?

  • Thomas P. Cundy
  • Hani J. Marcus
  • Archie Hughes-Hallett
  • Sanjeev Khurana
  • Ara Darzi
Review Article


The role of robot-assisted surgery in children remains controversial. This article aims to distil this debate into an evidence informed decision-making taxonomy; to adopt this technology (1) now, (2) later, or (3) not at all. Robot-assistance is safe, feasible and effective in selected cases as an adjunctive tool to enhance capabilities of minimally invasive surgery, as it is known today. At present, expectations of rigid multi-arm robotic systems to deliver higher quality care are over-estimated and poorly substantiated by evidence. Such systems are associated with high costs. Further comparative effectiveness evidence is needed to define the case-mix for which robot-assistance might be indicated. It seems unlikely that we should expect compelling patient benefits when it is only the mode of minimally invasive surgery that differs. Only large higher-volume institutions that share the robot amongst multiple specialty groups are likely to be able to sustain higher associated costs with today’s technology. Nevertheless, there is great potential for next-generation surgical robotics to enable better ways to treat childhood surgical diseases through less invasive techniques that are not possible today. This will demand customized technology for selected patient populations or procedures. Several prototype robots exclusively designed for pediatric use are already under development. Financial affordability must be a high priority to ensure clinical accessibility.


Pediatric Robotic Technology 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thomas P. Cundy
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Hani J. Marcus
    • 1
  • Archie Hughes-Hallett
    • 1
  • Sanjeev Khurana
    • 2
    • 3
  • Ara Darzi
    • 1
  1. 1.The Hamlyn Centre, Institute of Global Health InnovationImperial College LondonLondonUK
  2. 2.Department of Paediatric SurgeryWomen’s and Children’s HospitalAdelaideSouth Australia
  3. 3.Discipline of SurgeryUniversity of AdelaideAdelaideSouth Australia

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