When robotic surgery was introduced in 2000 with the Food and Drug Administration’s approval of the da Vinci Surgical System, many people imagined a medical future in which robotics replaced a surgeon during surgical procedures. However, replacing a surgeon’s hands-on expertise was not the intention at the onset of robotically-assisted systems in 2000, nor is it the goal two decades later in 2020.
Rather, the purpose of robotically-assisted surgical procedures is to assist the surgeon in the treatment of a wide range of conditions. Typically, a medical robotic surgical system involves a camera arm and mechanical arms with surgical instruments attached to them. The surgeon controls the arms from a computer console near the operating table. The console gives the surgeon a magnified, high-definition 3-D view of the surgical site, which can provide an enhanced level of precision and flexibility.
It’s important to note that the robot does NOT perform the surgery. The surgeon is in control of each movement of the tiny instruments that are attached to the robotic arms. Other medical team members are also present to assist during the surgery just as they would be during more conventional types of surgical procedures.
Advantages Of Robotically-Assisted Surgery
Robotically-assisted surgery was developed to enhance how surgeons perform certain types of minimally-invasive surgeries, which are procedures that are performed through tiny incisions rather than larger or “open” surgeries.
In some cases, robotically-assisted surgery allows the surgeon to use fewer and smaller incisions, and to more easily reach hard-to-access areas of the body including the:
- Small intestines
Some of today’s robotically-assisted surgical systems are designed to provide “force feedback”—which helps the surgeon “feel” the stiffness of tissue that the robotic arm is grasping—and “eye-tracking,” which helps the surgeon control where and how the surgical tools move.
In certain cases, when a procedure would have been much more difficult to accomplish with traditional or open surgical methods, robotic assistance can help surgeons perform complex or delicate procedures through minimally invasive surgery.
The potential benefits of these minimally invasive surgeries include:
- Smaller, less noticeable incisions and scars
- Fewer complications, such as surgical site infection
- Less blood loss and pain
- Quicker recovery periods
Risks Of Robotically-Assisted Surgery
As with any type of surgery, robotically-assisted procedures involve varying degrees of risk. Some risks may be similar to those of traditional open surgery, such as a small risk of infection. Depending on the goals and challenges of a specific procedure, a robotically-assisted surgery that requires a longer amount of time would mean that the patient is also under anesthesia longer, which can carry risks.
While robotic surgery isn’t an option for everyone, the goal of utilizing robotically-assisted procedures when they are a viable option is to create a safer and more efficient surgical environment for both the patient and surgical team.
All surgeons at Evansville Surgical Associates are certified by the American Board of Surgery, and many of them also have subspecialty training and certification in vascular surgery, trauma and critical care, and minimally-invasive surgery.
Each of our surgeons has the most advanced knowledge about the benefits and risks of robotic surgery and how it compares with other techniques, including other types of minimally-invasive surgery and conventional open surgery. Your surgeon can discuss your surgical procedure options with you to help determine which option would be best for you.
At Evansville Surgical Center, we are dedicated to serving our patients with the most state-of-the-art advanced surgical procedures in the Tri-State region. Established in 1969, Evansville Surgical Associates celebrates 50 years of providing leading-edge comprehensive and compassionate surgical care. Learn more about our physicians and our practices by visiting our website, or by calling us at 812.424.8231 or 800.264.8231.