We present the concept that a surgical robot may be used to successfully perform a free flap. To study different microsurgical techniques, a porcine free flap model was developed in our laboratory. Dissection of the free flap model and isolation of the vessels were completed under traditional loupe magnification. The da Vinci® robot was then used to perform vessel adventitiectomy and microanastomoses. The model was observed for 4 h postoperatively, noting flap color, temperature, capillary refill, and Doppler signal. At the end of this period, the flap was noted to be viable; anastomoses were evaluated and found to be grossly and microscopically patent. Advantages conferred by the da Vinci® robot include elimination of tremor, scalable movements, fully articulating instruments with six degrees of spatial freedom, and a dynamic three-dimensional visualization system. Drawbacks include the cost and the absence of true microsurgical instruments.
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