Robotic surgery, also called robot-assisted surgery, is a form of operating room automation that assists doctors doing laparoscopic or minimally invasive surgery. The technology helps reduce the tissue trauma associated with more traditional surgery and has many benefits for both surgeons and patients
During robotic surgery, the surgical team inserts long metal rods into the patient’s body through several small incisions instead of making one large open incision. The rods are attached to mechanical robot arms and contain a tiny video camera and miniaturized instruments. Rather than work on the patient directly, a surgeon manipulates the robot arms from a computer console placed at a distance from the operating table while a bedside surgeon is responsible for positioning the robotic arms and instruments.
The surgeon at the console uses hand controls, foot pedals and sometimes voice commands to direct the robot to perform the normal movements associated with surgery. The computer gives the doctor a magnified high-definition 3-D view inside the body on a large screen. The robot and rods can copy the surgeon’s hand, wrist and finger movement with micro-instruments in a much smaller contained space, even enabling surgeons to access parts of the body the human hand alone cannot reach.
Other benefits for surgeons include more precision, control and range of motion than in standard surgery for a wide variety of operations. Surgeons may be more comfortable and less likely to become fatigued while sitting at the computer workstation, as opposed to standing for long hours at the operating table, during delicate and complicated procedures. The robotic arms also eliminate even the slightest human hand tremor.
For patients, minimally invasive robotic surgery helps them heal more quickly and go home sooner. Because of the smaller incisions, they experience less blood loss and a lower risk of infection and post-operative complications. Other advantages for patients include:
- Less pain which reduces the need for pain medication
- Minimal scarring
- Faster recovery time
- Shorter hospital stay
- Quicker return to normal activities
Studies shows robotic surgery is a successful, less invasive way to treat many conditions and its popularity is growing. Doctors today use robot-assisted technology for heart surgery, orthopedic surgery, cancer surgery, gynecologic surgery, urologic surgery, brain surgery and more.