Robotic Surgery

Newly available robotic techniques make it possible to perform minimally invasive surgery deep in the pelvis in order to remove rectal tumors, while theoretically protecting the nerves to this area. The fields of laparoscopic surgery and robotic surgery are used together during this operation.

Robotic surgical systems boast many advantages over traditional open operations, such as:

  • Possible sparing of and preservation of the regional nerves, with the potential advantage of a lower incidence of postoperative side effects such as incontinence (difficulty controlling urine or feces) and impotence (difficulty with sexual performance).
  • Improved vision of the operative site
  • Increased maneuverability of surgical equipment
  • Increased precision and control over surgical instruments
  • A minimally-invasive procedure
  • Quicker recovery period and reduced hospital stay

Robotic surgery is performed using a robotic arm with an attached camera, a processing computer system that produces 3-dimensional images and two interactive mechanical arms that move in a fashion directly resembling human wrists, hands and fingers. The machine functions under the direction of your colorectal surgeon using a remote control device in the operating room.

The day prior to the procedure, you will be asked to perform a bowel cleansing with medicine similar to that used for a colonoscopy. You will also be asked not to eat or drink anything after midnight prior to the operation. The operation is performed in a hospital under anesthesia.

The robotic instruments are inserted into the abdomen using small incisions, similar to traditional laparoscopic surgery. There are several differences between the new robotic technique and the methods of laparoscopic surgery however. The largest difference is that your surgeon will operate remotely from a control console within the operating room. The robotic arms are more flexible than the tools used in laparoscopic surgical procedures, giving the surgeon greater visibility of the surgical site. There is a magnified 3-D image of the area that is being treated. The image is viewed on a video screen within the operating console from which the surgeon guides the instruments. A second, trained surgeon is positioned next to the patient to aid in positioning of the robotic equipment and to care for the patient. Robotic surgery gives your surgeon greater precision and visibility of the operative field.

Robotic surgical techniques are used to resect certain types of rectal lesions and tumors that are located deep within the pelvis.

An experienced surgeon will explain the procedure in greater detail and will discuss the risks and benefits of robotic surgery with you.