Nowadays, we are astonished at how much medical technology has evolved and developed. More clinics use surgical robots to operate and treat the patients. Millions of people benefited from a robotic surgery. Moreover, it has become a favorite surgical option for many doctors. Here are more useful details about the robotic surgery procedure.

What Is Robotic Surgery?

Robotic surgery, also known as a robo-assisted medical procedure, is a minimally invasive operation. This means that instead of creating large incisions on the patient’s body, doctors choose to use small medical instruments. These tools can even fit through several tiny incisions.

Surgeons control all these medical tools as well as a video camera from a central console placed in the operating room. A robotic arm holds all these surgical tools while operating the patient. Those that need this kind of surgery will not feel any pain at all because they will be asleep during the entire procedure.  Because the incisions are small, most patients only have minimal discomfort after the surgery is over.  Doctors do need to do a general anesthesia in these cases.

There are plenty of benefits when it comes to robo-assisted surgery such as minimal scarring and a faster recovery time.

Types of Robotic Surgery Procedures

specialists testing a robo-assisted surgery
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There are several types of robo-assisted procedures available today. Among them, the most common ones are those described below.

#1. Prostate Disease Robotic Surgery

In cases of prostate cancer, the robo-assisted radical prostatectomy is one of the most effective treatment methods. During this procedure, the entire prostate area, as well as the any cancerous tissue that might be surrounding it, will be removed.

Although surgeons can perform this operation by doing a large classic abdominal incision, using the robotic arms will increase precision and control during certain complex phases of the surgery.

#2. Kidney Disease Robotic Surgery

Certain illnesses such as cancer, high blood pressure, diabetes, and infections can damage someone’s kidneys. The older procedure required an incision that can reach up to 8 inches. Patients did not have the opportunity of choosing a robotic surgery until recently. This uses an advanced technology that provides an in-depth overview of the condition. Also, it lets the surgeon translate his/her hand movements through the robotic arm.

#3. Gynecologic Conditions Robotic Surgery

During open gynecologic operations, doctors make large incisions in the abdomen area. This was a standard procedure for many years.  Unfortunately only 50% of gynecologists are still performing this kind of  invasive surgery and it creates a lot more pain for the patient.

In the last few years, robo-assisted surgery became a new option and alternative to the classic large incision surgery, and it benefits the patient with faster recovery, less pain, and less scarring.

Benefits of Robotic Surgery

two doctors using a robotic surgery machine
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There are plenty of advantages when it comes to using a robo-assisted medical intervention. Here are some of the most common pros of robotic surgery:

  • Shorter hospitalization period.
  • Less pain and physical trauma.
  • Smaller incisions.
  • Less blood loss.
  • Faster recovery time.
  • Fewer risks and complications.
  • Reduced infection risk.
  • Minimal scarring.

As you can see, after a laparoscopic robotic surgery, you can return to your normal daily activities a lot quicker than after a standard procedure.

Doctors also have plenty of advantages while using this kind of technology. They receive a dexterity boost, greater precision, and a much higher visualization.

Risks Involving a Robotic Surgery

Although most robo-assisted surgeries are completely safe, and nothing out of the ordinary happens during them, some people have reported side effects or complications.  This almost always related to human error or the training and experience of the doctor and staff.  Doctors have to learn new skills and learn to use the new and technologically advanced robotic system to perform surgeries.  There is a learning curve to using this technology safely, most of the complications occur when a doctor has done less than 20 cases total or doesn’t use the robotic system on a regular basis.  Therefore it is important to ask your doctor how many cases they have done and if they maintain their skills by doing frequent robotic surgeries.

This is why many hospitals and medical organizations throughout America created new regulations and safety standards.  Some of the most common risks of standard surgery are the same as robotic surgery and are the following ones:

Normal Surgery related risks include:

  • Damage to other organs, nerves, or tissues
  • Potential for human error or equipment failure
  • Gas/air trapped beneath skin;
  • Risks of infection;
  • Bleeding (sometimes needing a transfusion)

Robotic surgery related risks:

  • Longer Operating time compared to large Incision surgery times
  • Possibility of temporary pain or tenderness from positioning on table
  • Possibility of converting to open procedure and thus a longer operating time

So, if you want to stay on the safe side, you should pay attention when choosing your surgeon. Make sure he/she is a trained and experienced professional. The hospital is also important, but you should also keep in mind the costs that this procedure involves. Of course, any medical procedure has its share of potential complications, even the standard surgeries.

Robotic Surgery Recovery

Due to the fact that it is a minimally invasive procedure, the robo-assisted surgery will provide a faster and easier recovery period. Therefore, patients can quickly return to their normal way of living. However, everyone heals at their own pace and in their own way.

Doctors recommend patients immediately take their first shower, get out and walk around, take stairs up or down.  Also, in just 24 hours, you can drive. Most patients can return to work after one to three weeks.  However, a number of patients will take 6 weeks off because their job gives them that much time off after surgeries.

Post-Surgery Care

You can remove your bandages 24-48 hours after the surgery. Sometimes, they fall of themselves. Don’t panic if you see a small amount of discharge once you remove the dressing. It is very common, and it usually goes away in a couple of days.  If you see any red streaks that are spreading, then let your doctor know and he or she might call you in antibiotic for a skin infection.

Doctors allow their patients to apply an over-the-counter product such as an antibiotic ointment on the incisions in order to prevent infection. But you should do that only after your remove your bandages.

Alternative to Robotic Surgery

Although the robo-assisted procedure has plenty of benefits, the robotic equipment can be more expensive to the hospital for the surgery but they do get significant cost savings since Robotic surgery patients go home very quickly and the hospital saves significant money on inpatient care.  Also, the surgery is not more expensive to the patient than other types of surgery options. One of the more traditional alternatives is using regular laparoscopic instruments, but they have a limited range of movement so not as much detailed precision work can be done with them.  In countries outside of the U.S., many hospitals have a navigation system which consists of a camera and a tracking system or even a passive arm that has encoded joints.

A recent option that doctors use is a surgical drill that bases its functions on a sensor. Other small devices such as magnetic systems can also be used during surgical interventions. So far, the most popular cancer treating robotic tool is the proton beam therapy.

Some of the experts out there might consider the above tools as mechanism instead of robots. However, they provide plenty of benefits, especially as additions to a robotic system.

Bottom Line

It is true that robotic surgery offers plenty of advantages to both doctors and patients. Still, it is important to know all your options before making a decision. If you have experienced this type of robotic surgery, don’t hesitate to share your insights with us, in the comment section.

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