01/10/2019

What is robot-assisted surgery?

The da Vinci Surgical System, available at St. Joseph’s/Candler, has many benefits to patients

On one side of the operating room, the surgeon is positioned behind the console, gently maneuvering the controllers. Several feet away, enveloping the patient, robotic arms follow the surgeon’s practiced actions.

It’s the latest technology in surgery, and it has many benefits to the patient. Called robot-assisted surgery, it helps patients leave the hospital quicker and recover faster.

Dr. Marc Bailey
Dr. Marc Bailey, cardiothoracic surgeon with St. Joseph’s/Candler Medical Group – Cardiothoracic Surgery

The da Vinci Surgical System is robot-assisted surgery that is appropriate for a wide array of surgeries from gynecological procedures to cancerous tumor removal to organ removal. It is also state-of-the-art for common surgeries such as gallbladder removal, appendectomies and hernia repair.

St. Joseph’s/Candler has five da Vinci robots – two da Vinci Xi Surgical Systems and three da Vinci Si Surgical Systems. The Xi is the fourth generation in da Vinci technology.

“Robotic technology has really become the gold standard on some of these operations,” says Dr. Marc Bailey, cardiothoracic surgeon with St. Joseph’s/Candler Medical Group – Cardiothoracic Surgery. “It allows me to remove very large tumors from the lung or mediastinum (the region located between the lungs) without ever spreading a rib or breaking a rib.”

Related Article: Minimally-invasive surgical approaches help improve cancer survival rates 

The da Vinci robot uses sophisticated computer-aided equipment which allows the surgeon to have the benefit of magnified views of regular laparoscopic surgery while retaining the three-dimensional view of traditional open surgery.

The surgeon sites at a console where their hands are placed into glove-like controllers, called masters, which are used to manipulate the robotic surgical EndoWrist instruments. The on-board computer replicates the surgeon’s movements precisely and to scale while filtering out the surgeons pulse, called tremor, normally seen at high magnification. This allows the surgeon to move in a more natural fashion as opposed to straight stick laparoscopy where the surgeon has to move the instrument left to go right thus reducing the chance of human error.

“You have more avenues of control as the surgeon,” says Dr. Alan Lord, colorectal surgeon with Metro Surgical, PC. “You control the camera. You control the different working arms. Also, you are able to do minimally-invasive surgery with a robotic wrist.”

Robot-assisted surgery involves up to five incisions smaller than a penny. This has great benefit for the patient including:

Dr. Alan Lord
Dr. Alan Lord, colorectal surgeon with Metro Surgical, PC
  • Less pain
  • Less blood loss and potential for transfusions
  • A shorter hospital stay
  • Faster recovery and quick resumption of normal daily activities
  • Move faster to adjuvant therapy, such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy
  • Less risk of wound infection
  • Better postoperative organ function in the long run
  • Less scarring

“These patients used to go to the ICU for a couple of days, have several drains and a spinal catheter for pain and urinary bladder catheters. All that’s eliminated,” Dr. Bailey says. “Patients are walking right away and two to three days is the average stay, which is less than half of what it used to be.”

Related Article: Why can’t I wear nail polish during surgery? 

The da Vinci Surgical System also is beneficial to surgeons. It requires less time, fewer tissues are exposed to potential infection and it requires less post-operative monitoring.

Not all patients qualify for robot-assisted surgery, but if you or a loved one are facing a surgical procedure, talk to your doctor about the potential for robot-assisted surgery. Some common surgical procedures performed robotically include:

  • Gynecological procedures, such as prolapse, fibroids and endometriosis
  • Prostate removal
  • Cancer surgeries
  • Full or partial colon removal
  • General surgeries such as gallbladder removal, appendectomy and hernia repair
  • Kidney removal , or nephrectomy
  • Lung surgery, or lobectomy

“As the robots continue to evolve and the younger generation of surgeons is trained on them that will be a revolution in surgery over the next decade,” Dr. Lord says. “Also, as the robot continues to evolve to single-site surgery and going in with a single port to do a lot of work through a single port rather than different ports will be another evolution. As they begin to incorporate imaging into what we are looking at from the console that will bring in another dimension. All those things are on the horizon in the foreseeable future. It’s exciting technology.”

To learn more about the da Vinci Surgical System, visit our website.

  • St. Joseph's Hospital Campus: 11705 Mercy Blvd., Savannah, GA 31419, (p) 912-819-4100
  • Candler Hospital Campus: 5353 Reynolds St., Savannah, GA 31405, (p) 912-819-6000
  • Find us on:

St.Joseph's Hospital Campus: 912-819-4100

Candler Hospital Campus: 912-819-6000