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.
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:
—removal of the kidney
—removal of the prostate
Complications are rare, but no procedure is completely free of risk. If you are planning to have robot-assisted surgery, your doctor will review a list of possible complications, which may include:
Some factors that may increase the risk of complications include:
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:
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 one 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 suturing 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 3D 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 with joystick-like controls and foot pedals. Lastly, the tools will be removed and stitches or staples will be used to close the area.
Usually 1-2 hours or less
You will have pain and discomfort during recovery. You will be given pain medication. You may also feel bloated or have pain in your shoulder from the gas used during the procedure. This can last up to three days.
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:
After you return home, be sure to follow your doctor's instructions. Ask your doctor about when it is safe to shower, bathe, or soak in water.
After you leave the hospital, contact your doctor if any of the following occurs:
In case of an emergency, call for medical help right away.
American College of Surgeons
US Food and Drug Administration
Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health
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.
Robotic surgery. Thinkquest website. Available at:
http://library.thinkquest.org/03oct/00760/. Accessed July 25, 2013.
Last reviewed July 2013 by Marcin Chwistek, MD; Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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