What Is Robot-Assisted Surgery Exactly?

Technology allows surgeons to operate through a few tiny incisions

Robotic Surgery

If you hear the term “robot-assisted surgery” come up as a treatment option for you or a loved one, you might wonder what that really means.

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Robot-assisted surgery uses a mechanical arm and wrist to mimic a surgeon’s movement while the surgeon’s hands control the movement and placement of surgical instruments, says general surgeon Ajita Prabhu, MD.

Unlike traditional open surgery, robotic surgery requires only four to five small, button-hole-size incisions. Through these incisions, a surgeon uses a powerful, high-precision endoscope ― a tiny camera ― and specialized surgical instruments.

“Robot-assisted surgery provides surgeons with all of the clinical and technical capabilities of traditional open surgery while enabling them to operate through only a few tiny incisions,” Dr. Prabhu says.

Here are three questions you may have about robot-assisted surgery:

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What are the benefits of robot-assisted surgery?

Patients can benefit from robot-assisted surgery ― it allows surgeons to perform complex medical procedures with great precision using a minimally invasive approach.

Potential patient benefits include:

  • It’s a less invasive procedure ― typically the surgeon makes four to six small incisions instead of several long incisions.
  • Shorter hospital stay and time needed for recovery.
  • Significantly less pain.
  • Quicker return to work and normal activities.
  • Decreased blood loss in some procedures.
  • Less scarring.

Are all patients good candidates for robot-assisted surgery?

“There are no specific criteria a patient must meet to be a candidate for robot-assisted surgery,” Dr. Prabhu says. “The surgeon and the patient need to have a discussion and determine whether it is a good option.”

Surgeons use robot-assisted technology in a number of minimally invasive procedures. These include general surgery (such as hernia repair), kidney and cancer treatmenturological and gynecological conditions and heart surgery.

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What are the advantages for surgeons?

Robot-assisted surgery uses leading-edge technology to help physicians to better serve their patients. For surgeons, the advantages include:

  • A high-definition computer monitor that offers physicians improved visualization, enhanced dexterity and greater precision during surgery.
  • A surgical stapling device is part of the unit.
  • The physician sits down during the procedure, which may result in less fatigue.

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