There’s a new surgeon at Houston Northwest Medical Center – and he’s got four arms and lots of computer processors. You see, the “surgeon” actually is the da Vinci surgical system, a computerized robot that helps surgeons in the operating rooms.
Robotic-assisted surgery provides surgeons with a steady set of hands that can hold and manipulate instruments under that the surgeons control. During the procedure, the surgeon’s hand movements are translated through the computer to the robot’s arms that then do the work. Safety mechanisms are in place to ensure that the robot only moves under control of the surgeon. If the surgeon looks away from the computer terminal, the robot locks in place.
The robot helps during laparoscopic surgeries that involve special instruments that are inserted through several small incisions in the body. One of the robot’s arms holds a special camera that provides three-dimensional views, including magnification of the area where the surgeon is working. Surgeons using the da Vinci surgical system report that the robotic instruments move more freely than the human wrist does, enabling them to get the instruments placed at the correct angle. Plus the robot can hold instruments without any of the fine motor movement that a human’s hands would have, making the surgery more precise. The robot’s arms can get to areas of the body that are harder to reach compared to traditional open and laparoscopic surgery.
What types of surgery can the da Vinci system do?
Surgeons may use the da Vinci system for a number of laparoscopic procedures including operations for ovarian cysts and hysterectomies.
What are the benefits of robotic-assisted surgery?
Robotic-assisted surgery uses smaller incisions than traditional open surgery. These incisions may be smaller than those in a laparoscopic procedure without robot assistance. These smaller incisions may mean:
• Faster recovery time
• Less pain and bleeding
• Less risk of infection
• Shorter hospital stays
• Smaller scars
Any surgical procedure has risks, including reactions to medications, difficulty breathing, bleeding and infection.
You should discuss the options for any surgical procedure including whether an open, laparoscopic or robotic-assisted procedure would be more appropriate for your health and condition. You also should discuss the risks and benefits of any procedure before making a decision.
For more information on the da Vinci surgical system as well as physicians who perform robotic-assisted surgery, please contact Houston Northwest Medical Center at 281-580-0000.
Da Vinci Surgical System is a registered trademark of Intuitive Surgical, Inc.