In the last decade, surgical robots have literally transformed the way doctors operate and how quickly patients recover. Robotic surgery allows surgeons to be extremely accurate during complex procedures, such as cardiothoracic surgery, but only require incisions the size of a dime – even for major surgery.
In a robotic surgical procedure, three or four robotic arms are inserted into the patient through small incisions. One arm has a camera on the end, two arms act as the surgeon's hands, and a fourth may be used to move blockage out of the way.
The surgeon controls all four arms via a nearby console, and there is a surgical team on hand near the patient.
“Robotic-assisted surgery makes it possible to do some procedures in a minimally invasive way that otherwise would have to be done with open surgery,” says Erik Dunki-Jacobs, M.D., a surgical oncologist at the TriHealth Surgical Institute. “This is important because patients who have minimally invasive surgery have [fewer complications].”
Although robotic-assisted surgery might not be something you’ve thought about before, there are many good reasons to talk to your doctor about robotic surgery options if you need a medical procedure. Here are four of them.
1. It's Minimally Invasive
Because surgeons don't need to use their hands to directly access the body, incisions are smaller than with conventional surgery. The robotic arms also filter out tremors in the surgeon's hands to reduce the chance of inadvertent nicks or punctures that can cause bleeding and infections.
Robotic surgery is a great option for someone who needs a procedure in hard to reach areas of the body. In these areas, major blood vessels or other vital organs may be nearby, which can make the surgery more risky. Surgery on these areas would normally require a larger incision to have more room for the surgeon to see exactly what they’re doing to work.
2. You'll Recover More Quickly
Because robotic surgery is minimally invasive, it will likely take your body less time to recover than with traditional surgery.
Everyone is different, and healing time depends on the particular circumstances. Most people, however, are able to resume normal activities, including working, within several weeks after robotic assisted surgery.
With a potentially shorter recovery time, you'll save on the typically high costs that come with an inpatient hospital stay and get back to normal life more quickly. Because there is less trauma to the body, you'll also experience less scarring as you recover.
3. There is Less Pain and Blood Loss
With smaller incisions and better precision, you'll experience less pain during and after surgery. You'll also be less dependent on painkillers during recovery, reducing the risk of addiction.
Blood loss during robotic surgery is minimal and you generally avoid the need for blood transfusions. In other surgeries, blood loss can cause complications, and result in even longer recovery times.
4. You Have a Smaller Chance of Infection
The risk of infection exists with any surgical procedure, which can delay your recovery and keep you in the hospital longer. Some areas of the body have a higher chance of infection than others, particularly when large parts of the body are exposed due to long incisions. Because robotic surgery is less invasive, however, the risk of developing an infection is reduced, so you avoid the potential complications that come with infection.
Treat Your Condition
“We’re really fortunate to have a lot of experience with robotic-assisted surgery,” says Dr. Dunki-Jacobs. According to Intuitive Surgical, inc., TriHealth does more robotic surgeries than any other hospital in Ohio. “It’s an advantage for our patients.”
Robotic surgery is available for several different procedures that would normally be done by a surgeon. For example, local robotic surgery expert TriHealth treats problems in the following areas: