Robotic-Assisted Surgery

April 22, 2014

Article by Global Pre-Meds
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A Look At Robotic-Assisted Surgery

Gap medics medical work experience students observing orthopaedic surgery in Thailand. Robotic-assisted surgery is a minimally invasive procedure that is performed using a surgical robot. This is an operating room device that is manipulated by a skilled surgeon who controls and moves the mechanical arms remotely from a console that is placed near the patients’ bed. In robotic-assisted procedures, the incisions that are made are much smaller than the incisions made in conventional open surgery, which helps reduce blood loss and speed up postoperative recovery times.

This video-assisted, minimally invasive technique has been used to treat several different conditions, ranging from conditions of the upper GI tract to ovarian and prostate cancers and most recently, coronary artery disease.

How robotic-assisted surgery works

Sitting at a specially designed console in the operating room, the surgeon operates multiple precision-guided robotic arms. Each of these arms is fitted with miniaturized precision instruments that are inserted into the patient through multiple keyhole-sized incisions. A tiny video camera is inserted through another tiny incision. This camera provides the surgeon with a magnified, 3-D image of the operating site. This expansive view allows the surgeon to see the site clearly and to avoid accidently damaging the surrounding nerves and muscle. The robotic arms are capable of a full 360-degree rotation, which allows the surgical instruments to be moved with greater flexibility, precision and range of motion than can be done in a standard, minimally invasive laparoscopy.

Robotic-assisted surgery is done under general anaesthesia. Patients experience minimal blood loss and avoid the need for blood transfusions. Depending on the complexity of the condition being treated, patients may only have to spend a short time in the hospital.

Advantages of robotic-assisted surgery

Patients typically experience significantly less blood loss, less pain and much faster recovery times as compared to conventional open incision procedures. The return to normal activities following a robotic-assisted procedure may occur in a matter of weeks whereas a traditional, open surgery usually requires several days of hospitalisation and a recovery period that can last several months.

Risks involved in robotic-assisted surgery

As with any major surgery done under general anaesthesia, there is bound to be a certain amount of risk, including stroke and death. A thorough evaluation of a patient’s overall health is always done as part of the standard pre-surgery assessment.

Criteria for robotic surgery

Not every patient is an appropriate candidate for a minimally invasive procedure. The decision to surgically treat a patient using a robotic-assisted procedure involves several different considerations. Before deciding on the procedure, surgeons work closely with every patient, discussing treatment options and helping them decide on the best course of action, which may include robotic-assisted surgery.

The type of treatment recommended for a patient’s condition will depend on multiple factors, including age, medical history, the type and severity of the disease and the patients’ lifestyle. Diagnostic tests are typically required to determine if the patient is an appropriate candidate for robotic-assisted cardiac surgery.