The Surgical Robot vs. The Laparoscope

Medically reviewed by: Gary H. Hoffman, MD

Has The Future Arrived?

instrument and the handWhen we first looked at the robot for use in our surgical practice, we were intrigued, amused and concerned. Performing robotic surgery is fun but is it safe? Is it as good at curing disease as the now “traditional” laparoscopic operative technique? How does robotic surgery stack up against laparoscopic surgery? With many cases under our collective belts, we compare robotic surgery with laparoscopic surgery and make 10 important observations.

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  1. Robotic surgery has a safety profile that is equal to traditional laparoscopic or open procedures, when performed by skilled, experienced surgeons. As always, first do no harm still rules the day.
  2. console and robotRobotic surgery seems to yield equivalent cure results for malignant diseases when compared to open or laparoscopic surgery.
  3. Robotic surgery may begin to supplant laparoscopic surgery as the technique of choice for our practice because our patients have much less postoperative pain and a faster recovery time when compared with patients undergoing traditional procedures. Patients return home quicker.
  4. The incisions of robotic surgery are smaller than those of laparoscopic surgery, and much smaller than those of open surgery.
  5. The promoted advantage of greater visibility using robotic technology is an operating room advance, especially when used in colorectal surgery.
  6. Robotic surgery, while more expensive than laparoscopic surgery, is quickly becoming cost effective as newer technologies and economies of scale take effect.
  7. Robotic surgery has a steep learning curve and surgeons new to the technique should be monitored in their early stages of use.
  8. Robotic surgery is fun to perform and is ergonomically satisfying for the surgeon.
  9. robotWe are now using the robot to perform colon and rectal resections (for both benign and malignant diseases), cholecystectomies, hernia repairs, splenectomies, and other procedures. The superior visibility enhances and augments our technical abilities. Using our robotic arms and hands, we are now operating in all areas of the abdomen and pelvis.
  10. The instrumentation and our experience have enabled us to use robotic technology in previously unimagined ways. Robotic surgery was a challenging technology to learn. But, as our experience has grown, so too have our abilities.

robot Jetsons

Does robotic surgery have the potential to become the procedure of choice?

Yes, we believe that robotic tools and techniques, combined with the skills of the surgeon, will enhance our operative strategies and abilities in many clinical situations.

It appears the future has arrived and the surgical robot is here to stay.


Gary H. Hoffman M.D.,

Eiman Firoozmand M.D.,

Liza Capiendo M.D.

Los Angeles Colon and Rectal Surgical Associates

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