Publish date: 13 February 2024

Experts from across the world, led by UCLH and UCL clinicians and scientists, have created a framework to guide the introduction of new and advanced robots for surgical procedures. 

The consensus statement, published in Nature Medicine, considers the perspective of clinicians, patients, hospitals and developers to agree safe criteria for increasingly autonomous robots as their use in medical settings increases. 

Use of robots in surgery help to make surgery more precise, safer, and quicker. 

It is mostly used for complex surgeries, such as bladder, prostate and kidney cancer.  

An international group have come together to create a framework to ensure we further develop their use in surgery. 

First author, Hani Marcus (National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery at UCLH and UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology), said: “This framework goes beyond providing just a clinical perspective on the use of robots and AI in surgery.  

“The statement was written with patients, and they are very much at the heart of it. We also include recommendations on the need to evaluate how surgeons interact with and operate the robots, so that clinicians find the robots usable, and wider economic analyses to ensure that hospitals find the robots cost-effective, alongside promoting global health and sustainability.  

“It’s a broad remit, but having so many different perspectives has given us clear guidance for bringing these technologies into the operating theatre.”  

Mr Marcus said: “All of a sudden, there’s not just one robot but many robots in widespread use, so it’s a good time to have a framework to evaluate them. 

“We hope this framework will provide a safety net, particularly with the emergence of AI and increasingly autonomous robots.” 

The framework was created by the IDEAL Robotics Colloquium, which involves 81 researchers, from 12 countries across the world, and is managed by the University of Oxford. 

The first author is funded by the Wellcome / EPSRC Centre for Interventional and Surgical Sciences (WEISS) and the UCLH/UCL Biomedical Research Centre.