Robotic surgery, or robot-assisted surgery, allows doctors to perform many types of complex procedures with more precision, flexibility and control than is possible with conventional techniques. Robotic surgery is usually associated with minimally invasive surgery procedures performed through tiny incisions. It is also sometimes used in certain traditional open surgical procedures.
Robotic surgery with the Da Vinci Surgical System was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2000. The technique has been rapidly adopted by hospitals in the United States and Europe for use in the treatment of a wide range of conditions.
The most widely used clinical robotic surgical system includes a camera arm and mechanical arms with surgical instruments attached to them. The surgeon controls the arms while seated at a computer console near the operating table. The console gives the surgeon a high-definition, magnified, 3-D view of the surgical site. The surgeon leads other team members who assist during the operation.
Surgeons who use the robotic system find that for many procedures it enhances precision, flexibility and control during the operation and allows them to better see the site, compared with traditional techniques. Using robotic surgery, surgeons can perform delicate and complex procedures that may have been difficult or impossible with other methods.
Often, robotic surgery makes minimally invasive surgery possible. The benefits of minimally invasive surgery include:
- Fewer complications, such as surgical site infection
- Less pain and blood loss
- Quicker Recovery
- Smaller, less noticeable scars
Robotic surgery involves risk, some of which may be similar to those of conventional open surgery, such as a small risk of infection and other complications.
Robotic assistants can also decrease the fatigue that doctors experience during surgeries that can last several hours. Surgeons can become exhausted during those long surgeries, and can experience hand tremors as a result. Even the steadiest of human hands cannot match those of a surgical robot. Engineers program robotic surgery systems to compensate for tremors, so if the doctor’s handshakes the computer ignores it and keeps the mechanical arm steady.
Surgical cuts are smaller than with traditional open surgery. Benefits include:
- Faster recovery
- Less pain and bleeding
- Less risk of infection
- Shorter hospital stay
- Smaller scars