Initial experience with a robotically operated video optical telescopic-microscope in cranial neurosurgery: feasibility, safety, and clinical applications

Aurora Affiliations

Aurora Neuroscience Innovation Institute, Aurora St. Luke's Medical Center


OBJECTIVE: The move toward better, more effective optical visualization in the field of neurosurgery has been a focus of technological innovation. In this study, the authors' objectives are to describe the feasibility and safety of a new robotic optical platform, namely, the robotically operated video optical telescopic-microscope (ROVOT-m), in cranial microsurgical applications.

METHODS: A prospective database comprising patients who underwent a cranial procedure between April 2015 and September 2016 was queried, and the first 200 patients who met the inclusion criteria were selected as the cohort for a retrospective chart review. Only adults who underwent microsurgical procedures in which the ROVOT-m was used were considered for the study. Preoperative, intraoperative, and postoperative data were retrieved from electronic medical records. The authors address the feasibility and safety of the ROVOT-m by studying various intraoperative variables and by reporting perioperative morbidity and mortality, respectively. To assess the learning curve, cranial procedures were categorized into 6 progressively increasing complexity groups. The main categories of pathology were I) intracerebral hemorrhages (ICHs); II) intraaxial tumors involving noneloquent regions or noncomplex extraaxial tumors; III) intraaxial tumors involving eloquent regions; IV) skull base pathologies; V) intraventricular lesions; and VI) cerebrovascular lesions. In addition, the entire cohort was evenly divided into early and late cohorts. RESULTS The patient cohort comprised 104 female (52%) and 96 male (48%) patients with a mean age of 56.7 years. The most common pathological entities encountered were neoplastic lesions (153, 76.5%), followed by ICH (20, 10%). The distribution of cases by complexity categories was 11.5%, 36.5%, 22%, 20%, 3.5%, and 6.5% for Categories I, II, II, IV, V, and VI, respectively. In all 200 cases, the surgical goal was achieved without the need for intraoperative conversion. Overall, the authors encountered 3 (1.5%) major neurological morbidities and 6 (3%) 30-day mortalities. Four of the 6 deaths were in the ICH group, resulting in a 1% mortality rate for the remainder of the cohort when excluding these patients. None of the intraoperative complications were considered to be attributable to the visualization provided by the ROVOT-m. When comparing the early and late cohorts, the authors noticed an increase in the proportion of higher-complexity surgeries (Categories IV-VI), from 23% in the early cohort, to 37% in the late cohort (p = 0.030). In addition, a significant reduction in operating room setup time was demonstrated (p < 0.01).

CONCLUSIONS: The feasibility and safety of the ROVOT-m was demonstrated in a wide range of cranial microsurgical applications. The authors report a gradual increase in case complexity over time, representing an incremental acquisition of experience with this technology. A learning curve of both setup and execution phases should be anticipated by new adopters of the robot system. Further prospective studies are required to address the efficacy of ROVOT-m. This system may play a role in neurosurgery as an integrated platform that is applicable to a variety of cranial procedures.

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