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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surgeries that have been successful using robotic techniques include:
—removal of adrenal gland
—removal of the appendix
—surgery of the stomach to treat
—removal of the gallbladder
Colorectal proceduresHernia repairNephrectomy
—removal of a kidney
—surgical reinforcement of the valve between the esophagus and stomach
—removal of the prostate
—removal of the uterus
—removal of fibroids, which are noncancerous tumors in the walls of the uterus
Compared to more traditional procedures, robotic-assisted laparoscopic surgery may result in: Less scarringReduced recovery timesLess risk of infectionLess blood loss
to the body
Shorter hospital stayFaster recovery
Complications are rare, but no procedure is completely free of risk. If you are planning to have a robot-assisted laparoscopic procedure, your doctor will review a list of possible complications, which may include: Damage to neighboring organs or structuresInfectionBleedingAnesthesia-related problems
The need to switch to traditional surgical methods such as
or open surgery
Factors that may increase the risk of complications include: SmokingPre-existing heart or lung conditionObesityDiabetesExcessive alcohol intakePrevious abdominal or pelvic surgeryUse of certain medicines
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: Physical examBlood testsUrine testsElectrocardiogram (ECG, EKG)Intravenous pyelogram (IVP)Kidneys, ureter, bladder (KUB)
Abdominal or pelvic
Leading up to the procedure:
Talk to your doctor about your medications. You may be asked to stop taking some medications up to one week before the procedure, like:
Anti-inflammatory drugsBlood thinnersAnti-platelet medicationsTake antibiotics if instructed.Take a laxative and/or use an enema to clean out your intestines if instructed.Follow a special diet if instructed.Shower the night before using antibacterial soap if instructed.Arrange for someone to drive you home from the hospital. Also, have someone to help you at home.Eat a light meal the night before. Do not eat or drink anything after midnight.
Depending on the type of procedure that you have, you may be given: General anesthesia
—blocks pain and keeps you asleep through the surgery
Local anesthesia—just the area that is being operated on is numbed; given as an injection and may also be given with a sedative
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: ForcepsScissorsDissectorsScalpels
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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
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 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: Wash the incisions with mild soap and water.Ask your doctor about when it is safe to shower, bathe, or soak in water.Take antibiotics to help prevent infection if instructed.Avoid certain medicines.Resume normal activities. This will promote healing. You will have to avoid other activities, like driving, sexual activity, and strenuous exercise.Gradually progress from a liquid to a solid diet.
Drink plenty of water.Use stool softeners.Be sure to follow your doctor's instructions.
Depending on the procedure, you should make a full recovery within a few weeks.
After you leave the hospital, contact your doctor if any of the following occurs: Signs of infection, including fever and chillsRedness, swelling, increasing pain, excessive bleeding, or discharge from an incision siteAbdominal swelling or painSevere nausea or vomiting
Blood in the stoolPain and/or swelling in your feet, calves, or legsCough, shortness of breath, chest painBeing unable to eat or drink liquidsHeadache, feeling faint or lightheadedExcessive vaginal bleeding after a gynecologic procedurePersistent or foul smelling vaginal discharge after a gynecologic procedureOther worrisome symptoms
In case of an emergency, call for medical help right away.
Ruurda JP, van Vroonhoven ThJMV, Broeders IAMJ. Robot-assisted surgical systems: a new era in laparoscopic surgery.
Ann R Coll Surg Engl
6/3/2011 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance
DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance
: 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.
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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