Robotic surgery is a technique in which a surgeon performs a particular procedure through the use of a computer system that remotely controls very small instruments attached to a robot. It might sound futuristic or even a bit intimidating, but as a surgeon who uses this advanced technology, I can assure you won’t be left alone in an operating room with a robot. Robot-assisted surgeries enable surgeons to perform complex and delicate procedures through tiny incisions with unmatched vision, precision, dexterity and control.
While robotic surgery as a technological advancement can be an incredible benefit to patients, it is extremely important that surgeons have enough skill and experience to tailor it to each patient’s individual needs. Therefore, the same type of robotic surgery cannot and should not be performed on every person. So, how do you know if robotic surgery is right for you? My first recommendation is to read up on robotic surgery capabilities and talk to your doctor about their experience, results and their personalized plan for the treatment of your condition.
As a urologist who specializes in robotic surgery for the treatment of bladder, prostate and kidney cancers, I am able to create personalized surgical plans for patients undergoing robotic procedures depending on the type, location and amount of cancer, the patient’s prostate size and anatomy, and with careful consideration of each patient’s pre-surgical bladder and sexual functions.
As an example, here are some advantages of a Robotic Laparoscopic Prostatectomy for the treatment of prostate cancer:
• Less pain and faster recovery compared to open surgery.
• More accurate and precise than open surgery.
• Resolution of incontinence and return of bladder control and erections occur rapidly.
• Less blood loss, and therefore a good choice for patients who wish to avoid the need for transfusion.
• Shorter hospital stay.
• High chance of cure from prostate cancer with results apparent within a month after surgery.
Although adverse effects are rare, a certain amount of risk is present with any surgical procedure a patient undergoes. Additionally, robotic surgeries are highly technical procedures that most physicians have not been trained to perform and therefore are not available in many locations. As a result, you may need to travel to a surgeon and facility dedicated to and experienced in treating your specific condition.
Many types of urological conditions, including prostate, bladder, kidney and testicular cancers, can be successfully treated using robotic surgery. Furthermore, women with incontinence and pelvic prolapse, people with various deformities of the kidney, infertile men with varicoceles, people with hernias and those with kidney stones may be excellent candidates for robotic surgery. Robotic surgery also expands the pool of patients who otherwise would not be good candidates for open surgery.
Having performed more than 1,500 laparoscopic and robotic procedures for prostate, kidney, and bladder cancers, I believe robotic surgery in the hands of expertly skilled surgeons can provide curative treatment that is extremely precise, better preserves pre-surgery functions, and has minimal blood loss and pain, as well as a quick recovery. Be sure to talk to your doctor to find out whether a robotic procedure is an available and recommended treatment for your specific condition.