Journal of Robotic Surgery

, Volume 13, Issue 3, pp 449–454 | Cite as

Microanalysis of video from a robotic surgical procedure: implications for observational learning in the robotic environment

  • Courtney A. GreenEmail author
  • Patricia S. O’Sullivan
  • Ankit Sarin
  • Hueylan Chern
Original Article


Without haptic feedback, robotic surgeons rely on visual processing to interpret the operative field. To provide guidance for teaching in this environment, we analyzed intracorporeal actions and behaviors of a robotic surgeon. Six hours of video were captured by the intracorporeal camera during a robot-assisted lower anterior resection. After complete review, authors reduced the video to a consecutive 35 min of highly focused robotic activity and finally, a 2-min clip was subjected to microanalysis. The clip was replayed multiple times (capturing 1, 2, 10, 60 and 120 s intervals) and activities were identified, such as right and left hand motion, tissue handling and camera adjustments recorded using a software program. Activity patterns were categorized into two main themes: change in operative focus occurs when there is an inability to obtain adequate tension, and observation of robot-assisted surgery is based on an incomplete visual framework. The surgeon manipulated tissue predominantly using blunt adjustments and rarely grasped it, likely as a way to avoid tissue trauma. A magnified operative field required precise dissection, which occurs robotically with movement of a single instrument against a static field (motionless second robotic arm). This meticulous technique is unlike the bimodal manipulation often used for laparoscopic dissection. Since residents have limited active participation in robotic cases, and therefore, rely heavily on the captured image for skill acquisition, we recommend surgeons to use focus shifts as an opportunity to describe their operative decision-making and highlight instrument manipulations specific to operating with robotic technology.


Robotic surgery Surgical education Surgical teaching 



We would like to thank Pamela Derish in the University of California, San Francisco Department of Surgery for her additional contributions to this manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

All authors (Courtney A. Green, Patricia S. O’Sullivan, Ankit Sarin and Hueylan Chern) declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London Ltd., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SurgeryUniversity of California, San FranciscoSan FranciscoUSA
  2. 2.Department of MedicineUniversity of California, San FranciscoSan FranciscoUSA

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