What is Robotic Surgery?

Robotic Surgery is a minimally invasive surgery that is robotically assisted.  It is also known as a computer-assisted surgery. In this surgery, the doctors take the help of robotic arms that have small tools attached. The surgeon then controls this robotic arm with the help of a computer and performs the surgery. Due to this technique, the surgeons can perform even the most complex surgeries with better control, flexibility, and precision.

This procedure is gaining immense popularity and is being used vastly to treat a number of diseases. It is known as a minimally invasive procedure because the surgeons make small quarter-inch incisions instead of large ones.

Miniaturized surgical instruments are used for the surgery that fit easily through the small incisions. The surgeon controls these instruments and the camera with the help of a console (control centre), which is located in the operating room.

The surgeon carries out the entire procedure by using these controls which are linked to the robot. He can see every detail in the 3D monitor that is linked with the camera in the robot’s arms. The robot very precisely and accurately replicates every movement that the surgeon makes with the controls. The surgeon can even change the scale of the robot’s movements whenever necessary.  By utilizing these advanced technologies, surgeons are able to perform a huge number of complex and complicated surgeries with added precision and in a short span of time.

What is minimally invasive surgery? Alternative names?

Minimally Invasive Surgery (MIS) has become a very common procedure in hospitals all over the world. In this surgery, the surgeons make a tiny incision instead of a very large one that is common in the traditional open surgeries; and use several different techniques due to which the body is injured less. As these incisions are small, the patients tend to recover faster, there is less scarring, and the pain is also minimal.
It is typically performed on an outpatient basis, or the patient needs to stay in the hospital for a short period of time.

During this procedure, the surgeon makes small incisions of just ¾ inch in the skin through which special instruments and a camera are passed.

The doctor uses these instruments to perform the operation by monitoring the proceedings with the images displayed by the camera on the computer.

The alternate names for minimally invasive surgery are:

  1. Laparoscopy surgery
  2. Keyhole surgery
  3. Bandaid surgery

What is the difference between Robotic Surgery/Minimally invasive surgery and Open Surgery?

There are various differences between Robotic Surgery/ Minimally Invasive Surgery (MIS) and Open Surgery. They are:

  1. Minimally Invasive Surgery is performed through tiny incisions made by doctors, whereas open surgery is done by making a large opening.
  2. Patients suffer fewer traumas in MIS than in open surgery.
  3. Patients of MIS need less time to recover and can resume work in a short span of time, whereas the patients of open surgery need more time to recover.
  4. The blood loss during MIS is much less than that in an Open Surgery.
  5. There is less scarring in MIS as compared to Open Surgery.

Who is a candidate for Robotic Surgery?

Almost any adult is a good candidate for Robotic Surgery. The suitable candidates for this surgery include:

  1. Young adults – Young adults and middle-aged adults are one of the most ideal candidates for this surgery. They find this surgery suitable as they have career and family responsibilities and they want to get fit as fast as they can.
  2. Elderly patients – This procedure is very good for elderly patients, who are over 60; as they have to suffer less pain, it is better for their heart and pulmonary function, they have to stay in the hospital for a lesser time, and it is less painful.
  3. Any patient who is severely overweight and wants to undergo a surgery for obesity.
  4. Patients who need to get their gallbladder removed due to a disease.
  5. Patients who need to undergo surgery of the small intestine or the large intestine, and several common colon procedures.
  6. Patients suffering from hiatal hernia, swallowing difficulties, heartburn, and other chronic digestive problems.
  7. Patients who need to undergo complex surgeries of the pancreas, adrenal glands, liver, and spleen.

Which procedures have been performed using Robotic Surgery?

There are several procedures that are performed using this form of surgery. They are:

  1. General Surgery – Several general surgeries like benign pancreatic lesions, pancreatic cancer, hernias, liver tumours (malignant and benign), obesity (bariatric surgery, gastric bypass, gastric banding), severe GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), and many more are performed using this procedure.
  2. Lung – Esophageal cancer, lung tumour, and other diseases are treated with this surgery.
  3. Gynaecologic – It is one of the popular fields where Robotic Surgery is performed. This surgery is done for gynaecologic cancer, endometriosis, benign tumours, benign cervical disorders, staging of lymph nodes, removal of ovaries, ovarian cysts, and much more.
  4. Urological – This surgery is widely used for kidney cysts, Kidney disorders, kidney blockage, kidney stones, prostate cancer, vaginal prolapsed, and other urological diseases.
  5. Head and Neck – The MIS is done for complex surgeries of head and neck diseases like thyroid cancer and oropharyngeal cancer (head and neck cancer).
  6. Heart: Several heart conditions like atrial septal defects,mitral valve repair and prolapse, and atrial fibrillation are also performed using this procedure.

What are Robotic Surgery benefits to patients compared with open surgery?

Robotic Surgery has a lot of benefits as compared with Open Surgery:

  1. Patients get few cuts in this surgery as compared to the open surgery. Due to this they feel less discomfort and pain, and recover way faster.
  2. In this surgery the patient has to rest for a very short time and they can resume their daily activities within a week or two; whereas after an Open surgery, the patient needs to rest for at least a month.
  3. In this surgery, the patient does not need to stay in hospital for a long time. The patient is typically admitted on an outpatient basis or he/she has to stay in the hospital for a short while. But in an Open surgery the patient needs to be admitted in the hospital for a long time.
  4. The amount of blood loss is much less in this surgery than in an Open one.
  5. Since only small incisions are made in this surgery, the amount of scarring is much less than in a traditional one.

Limitations for Robotic Surgery? Safety?

The technology of this surgery is developing rapidly but it still has some limitations. They are:

  1. The major issue related to this procedure is its cost-effectiveness. The equipment and machine used for this surgery are very costly and they also feature high maintenance.
  2. These equipment are very bulky and sometimes it gets difficult to carry out surgeries with them.
  3. The equipment is so big that the operation room gets very crowded and sometimes it gets difficult for the surgical team to stay in the same room.
  4. There is a deficiency of well-matched equipment and other instruments, which increases dependence on the tableside assistants. Sometimes the assistants have to perform several parts of the operation.
  5. Very few surgeons are available who can easily use this equipment and carry out the surgery properly.
  • Robotic Surgery has a few risks:
  1. Breathing problem due to anaesthesia
  2. Reaction to medication
  3. Infection
  4. Bleeding

 Cost of Robotic Surgery?

Robotic Surgery is very expensive right now. It costs approximately Rs. 50,000 to Rs. 75,000 more than a Traditional or Open Surgery does. This is due to the costly robotic equipment that is used to carry out the surgery.

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