Laproscopic & Robtic Surgery: Whats the Difference

Medically reviewed by: Gary H. Hoffman, MD

Laparoscopic or Robotic Surgery.  Is There A Difference?

In Beverly Hills and Los Angeles, many people either have a colon problem requiring an operation, or else know someone who will require an operation. If this is the case, then the chances are that a colon and rectal surgeon, also known as a proctologist, has recommended a laparoscopic operation. Now, most everyone knows that laparoscopic surgery is also called minimally invasive surgery. It has been popularized in the media and has been in use since the early 1990’s. Often, the operation is performed at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center or another nearby institution. The operation usually results in discharge home much quicker than prior to the development of minimally invasive techniques.

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However, what most people do not know is that the same operation is now being performed robotically. In this case, the robot is controlled by the surgeon who sits in the room at a console nearby the patient. A first assistant stands at the patient’s side performing various technical aspects of the operation.


What are the similarities between laparoscopic surgery and robot-assisted surgery?

Both procedures are members of the family of operative interventions known as “minimally invasive procedures”. They are used to remove colon or rectal cancers or benign polyps. They are used in repairing benign diseases such as rectal prolapse, enterocele and diverticulitis. The conduct of the operation is the same in both types of operations. The manner in which the operative goal is accomplished is different between the two however.

Both techniques:

  • Are performed in a hospital, in an operating room with the patient under anesthesia
  • Use small incisions on the abdomen in order to insert a camera and instruments.
  • Require two trained surgeons, an anesthesiologist and an operating room team.
  • Are associated with less blood loss when compared with traditional, open surgery.
  • Are associated with a more rapid hospital discharge.
  • Are associated with less postoperative pain medication usage.
  • Are associated with a quicker return to work or the activities of daily life.
  • Have better cosmetic results when compared with the cosmetic results following open surgery.

Advantages of Robot-Assisted surgery:

  • Better optics and magnification. Two, 3-Dimensional high definition stereoscopic cameras.
  • “Endo-wrist” instruments for use in the operation. The “wrists” move in more directions than a human wrist. The “hands” securely hold the instruments.
  • Scalability. The hands of the instruments can be programmed to move at any multiple of the surgeon’s hand movements.
  • Anastomotic vascular evaluation. The blood supply to the area of the operation can be evaluated using special intravenous medicines at the time of surgery. Although this feature has not yet been proven to be of value clinically, its use is being studied.
  • An additional surgical arm to give the surgeon the ability to use more necessary instruments.
  • Extremely clear and precise visualization of the pelvic nerves which control continence and sexual function. These nerves are then protected during the operation.
  • Instant image referencing allows the surgeon to look at the operating console image while simultaneously looking at a side-by-side CT scan or ultrasound which was performed pre-operatively.

Los Angeles Colon and Rectal Surgical Associates.

Importantly, your surgeon must be specially trained and certified in the use of robotic technologies. All of the surgeons at Los Angeles Colon and Rectal Surgical Associates are experienced in both laparoscopic and robotic surgical techniques.

If you, or someone you know needs a colon or abdominal operation, consult a surgeon at Los Angeles Colon and Rectal Surgical Associates in Beverly Hills and Los Angeles. They are trained in robotic and laparoscopic surgery. Your surgeon will be able to tell you if you are a candidate for robot-assisted surgery.  (310)273-2310.

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