Though it may sound strange at first, having a robot in the operating room is being increasingly common — and beneficial.
Methodist Health System has been using robot-assisted surgery with the da Vinci Surgical System as an effective alternative to traditional open surgery and laparoscopy, and the results have proven incredible for North Texans. The minimally-invasive technique comes with a long list of pros, but many people still have questions.
Below, we'll answer a few of the most common with input from Dr. Anand Lodha, a specialist with Methodist Health System.
Is there still a surgeon in the OR?
Yes. Your doctor is actually performing the entire surgery, with his or her hand movements being translated by the da Vinci System into smaller, more precise movements of the tiny instruments inside your body. This robotic surgical platform has magnified 3-D, high-definition vision that's designed to take surgery beyond the limits of the human hand.
Will the robot ever act on its own?
No, that's impossible. The da Vinci System can only do what your doctor tells it to, and never make movements without direction.
What types of surgery are best for bringing in robots?
The da Vinci System can be used to treat a range of conditions, and your doctor can determine if you are a good candidate for robot-assisted procedures. The surgeries that it's most often use for include bariatric, colorectal, gynecologic, thoracic, urologic, head and neck, and general.
Dr. Lodha recalls one patient who had two separate tumors, one in the colon and on in the lung. "She went through a robot-assisted low anterior resection and was able to set up her lung surgery without undue delay," he says.
What are the pros to having robot-assisted surgery?
"Robotics offers a more precise minimally invasive surgery and a shorter length of stay in the hospital," says Dr. Lodha. With the help of robots, surgeons can now operate with incisions that are only 1-2 centimeters. Think about that: smaller cuts mean mean significantly less pain and blood loss, along with smaller scarring and chance of complications. You'll also enjoy a shorter hospital stay and will most likely return to your normal activities faster than you would have with traditional surgery.
Independently practicing physicians on the Methodist Health System medical staff perform da Vinci System surgery, and it is available at Methodist Dallas, Methodist Charlton, Methodist Mansfield, and Methodist Richardson medical centers.