We are all aware of robotic technology being used to support and drive laparoscopic techniques in surgery these days. There have been many propositions of using the same technology in driving open surgeries and while medical engineering students are yet to come up with such solutions, we run a quick comparison between the processes of da Vinci robotic surgery and laparoscopic surgery themselves.

Robotic Surgery:

  • Machine: Also called the da Vinci robot, the equipment used in robotic surgery is massive and very well-defined. Driven by multiple robotic, visual and interactive technologies, the da Vinci robotic system has a patient cart, a surgeon console and a highly powerful visual system that use three dimensional technology.
  • Instruments: Patented Endowrist instruments are used in the process and have a minimal instrument diameter of eight centimeters. This can be a hindrance to finer movements and swift damage control during emergencies.
  • Time: Robotic surgeries are backed by high-end technology and therefore finish the same laparoscopy procedures in comparatively less amount of time than that required in general laparoscopy. This is one of the main advantages of robotic surgery.
  • Surgeon: The surgeon is more comfortably positioned in robotic surgery and has a better view of the internal organs owing to the three-dimensional screen and camera. The hand movements of the doctor are substituted by the movements of the robotic arms.
  • Risks and Complications: The chances of complications are very low in case of da Vinci system robotic surgery. In case any complications arise, immediate attention and action by the team of surgeons overseeing the procedure is required.

Laparoscopic Surgery:

  • Instruments: There is no extensive machinery required in laparoscopic techniques. The laparoscopic instruments used include the laparoscope (camera) and other surgical tools. These are thinner than robotic Endowrist instruments and therefore can be positioned using more skillful angles, which are not possible using robotic instruments.
  • Manual Attention: General laparoscopy has complete manual attention and skills put to the disposal of the surgery. This helps avoid complications, although lack of three-dimensional technology and clarity at the point of surgery may lead to minor secondary problems.
  • Surgeon: The surgeon is totally involved in the laparoscopic surgery and does not have quite a good comfortable position as we see in case of da Vinci system robotic surgery.
  • Time: General laparoscopy takes a little longer than robot enabled laparoscopic techniques.
  • Risks and Complications: In case of any complications, the surgeon has complete control and can use his specialized skill sets immediately to control any damage during the surgery. If a complication arises after the surgery, a complete open surgery might be scheduled to address it.


It is important to note here that robotic technology could be applied to laparoscopy procedures due to the minimally invasive approach of the latter. Applying da Vinci robotic technology to open surgery may have more limitations than the present situation does, since in case of open surgeries and complicated multiple minimally invasive surgeries, the exact skills required may not be defined till just before the surgery. Therefore, it is a matter of time for us to see if the steadily growing demand for robotic laparoscopic procedures will give rise to technological innovation for robotic open surgical techniques.

The main two minimally invasive techniques being used in hospitals these days are laparoscopic surgery and robotic surgery. While both are similar to each other, a comparative study shows how each differs from the other.

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