Robot-Assisted Surgery

Surgeons at Nationwide Children’s Hospital use minimally invasive techniques whenever possible to reduce pain, length of hospital stays and the appearance of surgical scars. Robot-assisted laparoscopic surgery is one minimally invasive approach that combines the skills of specially trained surgeons with a state-of-the-art robotic surgical system.

Like other laparoscopic procedures, robot-assisted surgery involves making tiny “keyhole” incisions. Then, using the da Vinci® surgical system, surgeons insert laparoscopic equipment, which they control with their own movements. Because the equipment uses advanced robotics technology, the surgeon is able to perform highly complex movements on a very small scale, that are otherwise impossible to make with the human hand directly. The equipment includes a special camera that allows surgeons to monitor their movements in high-definition 3D video at extreme magnification. Remote viewing also allows other members of the surgical team to observe.

Benefits of Advanced Minimally Invasive Surgery

Robot-assisted and other minimally invasive procedures offer a number of benefits, compared to traditional “open” procedures. These benefits often include:

  • Smaller incisions

  • Reduced blood loss

  • Shorter hospital stays

  • Less pain for the patient after surgery, and less pain medication

  • Faster recovery

  • Reduced risk of infection and complications

  • Fewer scars

  • Increased patient and family satisfaction

Compared to standard laparoscopic procedures, robot-assisted surgery shares the same benefits in minimizing the invasiveness of the operation. But the robotic technology dramatically expands the surgeon’s natural abilities. Key advantages include:

  • Greater dexterity: The surgeon directs the instruments with a higher degree of dexterity and range of motion—far greater than the human hand can accomplish on its own.

  • Enhanced precision: Robotic technology allows for highly precise movements, including adjustable motion-scaling. It also eliminates the natural tremor of the human hand, which is can be invisible to the unaided eye, but noticeable under high magnification.

  • Improved visualization: High-definition monitoring offers an unprecedented level of stable viewing at extreme magnification. The da Vinci® surgical system also provides three-dimensional visualization, giving surgeons depth perception to guide them during delicate procedures.

Robot-Assisted Surgery in Pediatric Urology

Robot-assisted technology has an array of uses in a number of pediatric specialties, particularly in Urology. Many urological procedures, such as pyeloplasty, ureteral reimplantation and bladder reconstruction, maximize the benefits of the technology.