What is robot-assisted surgery?
Robot-assisted surgery is a type of minimally-invasive surgery completed through small incisions. The da Vinci surgical system uses high-definition, three-dimensional cameras that magnifies image 20 times coupled with specialized surgical tools that enable surgeons to operate with more precision and better control.
The robotic instruments have mechanical wrists that bend and rotate to mimic the movements of the human wrist thus allowing surgeons to make precise movements. Robotic software also negates the effect of surgeons’ hand tremors.
It is an effective minimally invasive alternative to both open surgery and laparoscopy. Surgeons undergo vigorous training with this system before being allowed to use it for surgery on patients. Moreover, there are many inbuilt safety checks in the system that decreases the chances of error. Patients can be rest assured knowing they’ll receive superior surgical care for the best possible outcome.
How robot-assisted surgery works
During robotic surgery, your surgeon inserts a tiny camera through a small incision in the surgical area. The camera sends a high-definition, 20 times magnified, 3D image of the surgical site to an external monitor in real time.
Using computer-assisted technology that guides specialized surgical instruments, your surgeon directs the robot with better control, precision, and range of motion than is possible with traditional surgery. A support team assists the surgeon with other surgical tasks. Thus the use of a robotic system makes difficult steps easier for the surgeon by providing for a range of motion and more maneuverability in handling tissue and suturing.
Will the surgeon be with me in the operating room?
Many patients wonder who is operating on them: the robot or the surgeon.
Robot-assisted surgery is a system that enables surgeons to operate with precise, delicate motions by controlling the machine. The robot never makes decisions or performs incisions on its own — it only responds to your surgeon’s hand and finger movements.
Your surgeon is located at a console in the operating room near you and the experienced support staff, directing the procedure the entire time. The robot allows for greater precision than the human hand has on its own, and your surgeon is in charge the whole time.
Conditions that can be treated with robot-assisted surgery
The majority of gastrointestinal issues can be addressed using robotic-assisted minimally invasive surgery, including:
- Gallbladder disease and its cancer surgery
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
- Liver surgery
- Surgery of the pancreas including surgery for cancer of the pancreas
- Surgery for the colon and rectum including its cancers
- Surgery for the esophagus, stomach, and intestine
- Gastrointestinal and liver cancer surgery.
The benefits of robotic surgery
Robot-assisted surgery has many benefits. Patients experience these benefits both directly and indirectly. For example, because robot-assisted surgery is minimally invasive, a direct benefit to you is a shorter recovery time. And because the surgeon has better access to the operative area, an indirect benefit is a more precise surgery.
Other benefits include:
- Smaller incisions
- Greater range of motion and dexterity for the surgeon
- High-resolution, the highly-magnified image of the operating field for better visualization during surgery
- Shorter hospital stay
- Lower risk of infection
- Reduced risk of blood loss
- Faster recovery with less pain
- Minimal scarring
- Better clinical outcomes
In addition, due to the enhanced control, flexibility, and precision that robot-assisted surgery offers, surgeons can complete complex or delicate procedures that may be difficult or impossible with traditional surgery.
Am I a candidate for robot-assisted surgery?
Although robotic surgery offers excellent outcomes for many patients, not everyone is a good candidate. The patient is recommended against robot-assisted surgery if:
- You’re unable to have general anesthesia
- You have significant scar tissue or other issues that prevent the cameras from visualizing the surgical area
- You’ve been diagnosed with bleeding problems that put you at risk for surgery
- You’re not a candidate for laparoscopic surgery
After a full evaluation of your condition and overall health, the surgical team in charge will determine if robot-assisted surgery is right for you.