A doctor uses robotic arms to operate through small keyhole incisions in the abdomen.
The robotic arms are able to do surgical tasks with an increased range of motion. They also can filter out hand tremor. The special tools translate the doctor’s larger hand movements into smaller ones. This allows delicate work to occur in small spaces.
Close-up view of laparoscopic tools used to remove the gallbladder (green structure).
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Some laparoscopic surgeries that have been successful using robotic techniques include:
Compared to more traditional procedures, robotic-assisted laparoscopic surgery may result in:
Problems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review potential problems, like:
Factors that may increase the risk of complications include:
Be sure to discuss these risks with your doctor before the procedure.
Depending on the reason for your surgery, your doctor may do the following:
Leading up to the procedure:
Depending on the type of procedure that you have, you may be given:
Several small incisions will be made. They are called keyhole incisions. Carbon dioxide gas will be passed into the abdomen to expand it. This will make it easier for the doctor to view the area.
A small camera will be passed through one of the incisions. This tool is called an endoscope. It lights, magnifies, and projects an image of the organs onto a video screen. The endoscope will be attached to one of the robotic arms. The other arms will hold tools that are able to grasp, cut, dissect, and suture. These may include:
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The doctor will sit at a console, looking at the images on the screen. Joystick-like hand controls and foot pedals will help to guide the tools. Another doctor will stay by you to adjust the tools as needed. In some cases, organs or tissue might need to be removed. When the procedure is done, the tools will be removed. The incisions will be closed with sutures or staples and a sterile dressing will be applied.
About 1-2 hours, depending on the type of procedure
Anesthesia will prevent pain during surgery. Pain and discomfort after the procedure can be managed with medications. You may also feel discomfort from the gas used during the procedure. This can last up to 3 days.
This procedure is done in a hospital setting. The usual length of stay is 1-2 days. Your doctor may choose to keep you longer if you have any problems.
When you return home, do the following to help ensure a smooth recovery:
Depending on the procedure, you should make a full recovery within a few weeks.
It is important for you to monitor your recovery after you leave the hospital. Alert your doctor to any problems right away. If any of the following occur, call your doctor:
If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.
American College of Surgeons
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
Canadian Cardiovascular Society
The da Vinci surgical system. University of Southern California, Cardiothoracic Surgery website. Available at: http://www.cts.usc.edu/rsi-davincisystem.html. Accessed July 25, 2013.
Robotic surgery. Brown University website. Available at: http://biomed.brown.edu/Courses/BI108/BI108_2005_Groups/04. Accessed July 25, 2013.
Ruurda JP, van Vroonhoven ThJMV, et al.. Robot-assisted surgical systems: a new era in laparoscopic surgery. Ann R Coll Surg Engl. 2002;84:223-226.
What is robotic surgery? The Robotic Surgery Center at NYU Langone Medical Center website. Available at: http://robotic-surgery.med.nyu.edu/for-patients/what-robotic-surgery. Accessed July 25, 2013.
6/3/2011 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Mills E, Eyawo O, et al. Smoking cessation reduces postoperative complications: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Am J Med. 2011;124(2):144-154.
Last reviewed February 2015 by Michael Woods, MDLast Updated: 5/29/2014