Robotic Surgery FAQs

Is Robotic Surgery Safe?

Robotic surgery does not mean that a robot replaces the surgeon during an operation. A more accurate name might be, ‘computer assisted surgery.’ The surgeon is seated at a console, operating joysticks, which then control robotic arms. These arms help surgeons reach tiny spaces that would otherwise not be accessible due to the limitations of the human hand. The robot is not an independently operating, moving machine. It is a tool, just like any other surgical tool, that is directly controlled by the surgeon. The surgeon controls the instruments and completes the surgery, whether they are operating with their hands, using handheld instruments like scissors and forceps, or controlling a robotic tool.

What are the Advantages and Limitations of Robotic Surgery?

The main advantage of robotic surgery is that it allows greater precision through very small incisions. With this type of minimally invasive surgery, instead of making a big incision as is done with open surgery, we use very small ports—just a few millimeters in size—to place instruments through those ports. With robotic assistance, surgeons operate through those ports using long straight instruments that have a joint on the inside that is controlled through computer-assisted approach.

Will There Be Less Pain After Robotic Surgery?

Other than the obviously improved aesthetics of not having a large incision, the benefit of a minimally invasive surgery, like robotic surgery, is that the smaller the incision, the less pain experienced by the patient. Less pain, means less pain medication which means less side effects from the medication. This refers not only to the serious, addictive aspect of pain relief medication like opioids, but also the more common side effects of constipation, nausea, itchiness, and altered mental status, among others.