Robot Failure

  • Camilo Andrés Giedelman Cuevas
  • Rafael Andrés Clavijo Rodriguez


With advances in technology, new machines and devices have been developed, bringing great advances in modern medicine; the use of robotic technology should not only be based on its advantages but also on its shortcomings, and clinicians should be aware of the risks of untoward or unexpected events. Malfunction of the da Vinci robotic system is one of the shortcomings that might result in variable outcomes, depending on the severity. The potential for malfunctions leading to complications, aborted procedures, or open conversions is a concern due to the reliance on this system.

The intention of this text is to give a consolidated assessment of the safety and efficacy of robotic surgical systems. We have practiced a review of current medical literature indexed in PubMed to date (US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health).

The most common failures are divided into groups: system errors and video/image problems, falling broken pieces or burned in the patient’s body, instrument’s electrical arcs, sparks or burning, and unintended operation of instruments. During the development of the chapter, we will try to give some clues to avoid or overcome the previous mentioned adverse events.

Robot-assisted surgery has brought new potential technical problems for the surgeon, but most of these problems can be corrected or temporarily overwhelmed to complete the operation. Robotic surgery provides a safe way of minimally invasive treatment.


Device malfunctions Robotic systems Failure Technical da Vinci Adverse effects 


  1. 1.
    Alemzadeh H, Raman J, Leveson N, Kalbarczyk Z, Iyer RK. Adverse events in robotic surgery: a retrospective study of 14 years of FDA data. PLoS One. 2016;11(4):e0151470. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0151470.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    The da Vinci Surgical System, Intuitive Surgical Inc.;
  3. 3.
    MAUDE: Manufacturer and User Facility Device Experience, U.S. Food and Drug Administration,
  4. 4.
    Adverse Event Reporting of Medical Devices, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General (OEI-01-08-00110), Oct 2009;
  5. 5.
    Hauser RG, et al. Deaths and cardiovascular injuries due to device-assisted implantable cardio- verter-defibrillator and pacemaker lead extraction. Europace. 2010;12(3):395–401. doi: 10.1093/ europace/eup375. PMID: 19946113.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Cooper MA, et al. Underreporting of robotic surgery complications. J Healthc Qual. 2013;37:133–8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Murphy D, et al. Complications in robotic urological surgery. Minerva Urol Nefrol. 2007;59(2):191–8. PMID: 17571055.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Andonian S, et al. Device failures associated with patient injuries during robot-assisted laparoscopic surgeries: a comprehensive review of FDA MAUDE database. Can J Urol. 2008;15(1):3912.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Lucas SM, Pattison EA, Sundaram CP. Global robotic experience and the type of surgical system impact the types of robotic malfunctions and their clinical consequences: an FDA MAUDE review. BJU Int. 2012;109(8):1222–7. doi: 10.1111/j.1464-410X. 2011.10692.x. PMID: 22044556.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Fuller A, Vilos George A, Pautler Stephen E. Electrosurgical injuries during robot assisted surgery: insights from the FDA MAUDE database. SPIE BiOS. 2012;8207:820714.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Friedman Diana CW, Lendvay TS, Blake H. Instrument failures for the da Vinci surgical system: a Food and Drug Administration MAUDE database study. Surg Endosc. 2013;27(5):1503–8. doi: 10.1007/s00464-012-2659-8 PMID: 23242487.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Gupta P, et al. 855 adverse events associated with the davinci surgical system as reported in the FDA MAUDE database. J Urol. 2013;189(4):e351.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Manoucheri E, et al. MAUDE-analysis of robotic-assisted gynecologic surgery. J Minim Invasive Gynecol. 2014;21(4):592–5. doi: 10.1016/j.jmig.2013.12.122. PMID: 24486535.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Zorn KC, Gofrit ON, Orvieto MA, et al. Da Vinci robot error and failure rates: single institution experience on a single three-arm robot unit of more than 700 consecutive robot-assisted laparoscopic radical prostatectomies. J Endourol. 2007;21:1341–4.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Borden LS Jr, Kozlowski PM, Porter CR, Corman JM. Mechanical failure rate of da Vinci robotic system. Can J Urol. 2007;14:3499–501.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Chen C-C, Yen-Chuan O, Yang C-K, Chiu K-Y, Wang S-S, Chung-Kuang S, Ho H-C, Cheng C-L, Chen C-S, Lee J-R, Chen W-M. Malfunction of the da Vinci robotic system in urology. Int J Urol. 2012;19:736–40.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Lavery HJ, Thaly R, Albala D, et al. Robotic equipment malfunction during robotic prostatectomy: a multi-institutional study. J Endourol. 2008;22:2165–8.24.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Engebretsen S, Huang G, Anderson K, Schlaifer A. A prospective analysis of robotic tip cover accessory failure. J Endourol. 2013. a Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.;27(7):914–7.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Clare R, et al. Relative effectiveness of robot?Assisted and standard laparoscopic prostatectomy as alternatives to open radical prostatectomy for treatment of localized prostate cancer: a systematic review and mixed treatment comparison metaanalysis. BJU Int. 2013;112(6):798–812. doi: 10.1111/bju.12247. PMID: 23890416.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Stefan B, et al. Robotic-assisted versus laparoscopic cholecystectomy: outcome and cost analyses of a case-matched control study. Ann Surg. 2008;247(6):987–93. doi: 10.1097/ SLA.0b013e318172501f. PMID: 18520226.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Alemzadeh H, et al. A software framework for simulation of safety hazards in robotic surgical systems. SIGBED Rev. (Special Issue on Medical Cyber Physical Systems Workshop). 2015;12(4):1–6.Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Alemzadeh H, et al. Simulation-based training for safety incidents: lessons from analysis of adverse events in robotic surgical systems. American College of Surgeons’ 8th Annual Meeting of the Consortium of ACS-accredited Education Institutes, Mar 2015.Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Taylor RH, et al. Medical robotics and computer-integrated surgery. Berlin Heidelberg: Springer handbook of robotics. Springer; 2008. p. 1199–222.Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Lin HC, Izhak S, David Y, Hager GD. Towards automatic skill evaluation: detection and segmentation of robot-assisted surgical motions. Comput Aided Surg. 2006;11(5):220–30. PMID: 17127647.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Kaushik D, High R, Clark CJ, LaGrange CA. Malfunction of the da Vinci robotic system during robot-assisted laparoscopic prostatectomy: an international survey. J Endourol. 2010;24:571–5.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Camilo Andrés Giedelman Cuevas
    • 1
    • 2
  • Rafael Andrés Clavijo Rodriguez
    • 1
  1. 1.Robotic Surgery and Advanced Laparoscopy, Clínica de Marly and Hospital San Jose, Fundación de Ciencias de la SaludBogotáColombia
  2. 2.Department of Urology, Minimal Invasive SurgeryClínica de Marly, Hospital San JoseBogotáColombia

Personalised recommendations