The robotic surgery risks surgeons should be addressing

Paige Haeffele -  

Robotic-assisted surgery offers increased accuracy, efficiency and safety. However, as the technology becomes more complex, the risk of security breaches, network interruptions, latency and equipment failure need to be addressed, Semiconductor Engineering reported June 30.

Robotic surgery systems have become a mainstream tool for hospitals, and their widespread utilization has made robotic surgery technology developments a priority for the healthcare industry. The newest technology often uses a variety of processing elements and sensors that rely heavily on internet connectivity.

"With all connected devices there is a security risk, which has recently become apparent in the many ransomware attacks," Marc Witteman, CEO of tech security company Riscure, told Semiconductor Engineering. "Imagine that your urgent medical procedure halts due to a hacker-invoked system crash. Or even more advanced, suppose the procedure is hijacked and deliberately made to mal-perform."

According to Mr. Witteman, surgical robots can be used on-site and remotely, relying on 5G technology and advanced operating systems. Although 5G networks are designed for security, system software needs to implement more strict security measures to combat the rise in vulnerabilities that come with increasingly complex software.

Though the recent technological advances have made remote surgery possible, this makes the  internet connections surgery robots use critical. The connections need to be highly reliable, with a high bandwidth and low latency, which is the delay between the user's actions and the technology's response to that action, Sathish Balasubramanian, head of products at Siemens EDA, told Semiconductor Engineering.  

Overall, robotic-assisted surgery must have secure system processors, advanced communications systems and the ability to monitor all the components in multiple connected systems that need to work together properly to ensure the risks associated with surgical robots are addressed properly by surgeons and developers. 

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