by Krisha McCoy, MS
A doctor guides small robotic arms through several tiny keyhole incisions. This allows for greater range of movement than a doctor's hand.
Reasons for Procedure
Robot-assisted surgery is considered for procedures that:
Performing surgery in this way may result in:
Many types of surgery, including pediatric surgery, can now be done with the assistance of a robot, including:
Problems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review potential problems, like:
Some factors that may increase the risk of complications include:
What to Expect
Prior to Procedure
Depending on the reason for your surgery, your doctor may do the following:
Leading up to the surgery:
Depending on the type of procedure that you have, you may be given:
Description of the Procedure
Several small keyhole openings will be cut in the skin near where the surgery will take place. In most cases, a needle will be used to inject carbon dioxide gas into the surgical area. This gas will make it easier for the doctor to see internal structures. Next, a small camera called an endoscope will be passed through 1 of the incisions. The camera will light, magnify, and project an image of the organs onto a video screen. Then robotic arms holding instruments for grasping, cutting, dissecting, and stitching will be inserted through the holes.
While sitting at a console near the operating table, the doctor will use lenses to look at a magnified 3-D image of the inside of the body. Another doctor will stay by the table to adjust the camera and tools. The robotic arms and tools will be guided by movements of the surgeon. Lastly, the tools will be removed and stitches or staples will be used to close the area.
How Long Will It Take?
Usually 1-2 hours or less, depending on the procedure
How Much Will It Hurt?
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.
Average Hospital Stay
This procedure is done in a hospital setting. The usual length of stay is a few days. Your doctor may choose to keep you longer if you have any problems.
While you are recovering at the hospital, you will:
Call Your Doctor
Call your doctor if any of these occur:
If you think you have an emergency, call for emergency medical services right away.
American College of Surgeons
US Food & Drug Administration
Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health
Robot-assisted heart surgery. Cleveland Clinic website. Available at: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/treatments/17438-robotically-assisted-heart-surgery. Accessed March 27, 2018.
Robotic surgery. The Robotic Surgery Center at NYU Langone Medical Center website. Available at:
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Accessed March 27, 2018.
6/2/2011 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.dynamed... : Mills E, Eyawo O, Lockhart I, Kelly S, Wu P, Ebbert JO. Smoking cessation reduces postoperative complications: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Am J Med. 2011;124(2):144-154.
Last reviewed March 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Donald W. Buck II, MD
Last Updated: 5/29/2014
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