A doctor guides robotic arms to do urologic surgery. This is done through several tiny “keyhole” incisions.

Male Genital and Urinary Systems

Male Genito-urinary System
From top to bottom: Kidneys, ureter (tube), bladder, prostate, and urethra (the second tube).
© 2009 Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Reasons for Procedure

Examples of urologic surgeries that have been successfully done using this technique include:

  • Prostatectomy]]>—to remove part or all of a prostate gland found to contain prostate cancer
  • ]]>Pyeloplasty]]>—to repair an abnormality of the kidney and nearby ureter (tube that leads from the kidney to the bladder)
  • ]]>Cystectomy]]>—to remove all or part of the bladder to treat bladder cancer
  • ]]>Nephrectomy]]>—to remove all or part of the kidney because of kidney cancer, kidney stones, or kidney disease
  • Ureteral reimplantation—to disconnect and reinsert the ureter from the bladder to keep urine from flowing backwards from the bladder into the kidneys
  • Procedures requiring fine dissection and suturing (eg, reconnection of the ureter)

Compared to more traditional procedures, robotic-assisted surgery may result in:

  • Less scarring
  • Reduced recovery times
  • Less risk of infection
  • Less blood loss
  • Reduced ]]>trauma]]> to the body
  • Shorter hospital stay
  • Faster recovery


Possible Complications

Complications are rare, but no procedure is completely free of risk. If you are planning to have a robot-assisted urologic procedure, your doctor will review a list of possible complications, which may include:

  • Damage to neighboring organs or structures
  • Infection
  • Bleeding
  • Anesthesia-related problems
  • The need to switch to traditional surgical methods (eg, traditional laparoscopic]]> or open surgery)

Some factors that may increase the risk of complications include:

Be sure to discuss these risks with your doctor before the procedure.


What to Expect

Prior to Procedure

Depending on the reason for your surgery, your doctor may do the following:

  • Physical exam
  • Blood tests and urine tests
  • Electrocardiogram (ECG, EKG)]]>—a test that records the electrical currents passing through the heart muscle
  • ]]>Intravenous pyelogram (IVP)]]>—a type of x-ray that creates images of the kidney, ureters and bladder by injecting contrast into the bloodstream
  • Retrograde pyelogram—a type of x-ray that creates images of the ureters and kidneys by injecting contrast into the ureter through the bladder
  • ]]>Kidneys, ureter, bladder (KUB)]]>—an x-ray of the abdomen
  • ]]>Ultrasound]]>—a test that uses sound waves to visualize the inside of the body
  • ]]>CT scan]]>—a type of x-ray that uses a computer to create images of structures inside the body
  • ]]>MRI scan]]>—a test that uses powerful magnets and radiowaves to create images of structures inside the body
  • ]]>Cystoscopy]]>—a lighted tube equipped with a camera used to visualize the inside of the urethra and bladder

Leading up to the procedure:

  • Talk to your doctor about your medicines. You may be asked to stop taking some medicines up to one week before the procedure, like:
  • Take antibiotics if instructed.
  • Follow a special diet if instructed.
  • Shower the night before using antibacterial soap if instructed.
  • Arrange for someone to drive you home from the hospital. Also, have someone to help you at home.
  • Eat a light meal the night before. Do not eat or drink anything after midnight.


]]>General anesthesia]]> will be used. It will block any pain and keep you asleep through the surgery.

Description of the Procedure

Several small keyhole incisions will be made in the abdomen. Carbon dioxide gas will be passed into the area. This will make it easier for the doctor to see the internal structures. The doctor will then pass a small camera, called an endoscope, through one of the incisions. The camera will light, magnify, and project the structures onto a video screen. The camera will be attached to one of the robotic arms. The other arms will hold instruments for grasping, cutting, dissecting, and suturing; for example:

  • Forceps
  • Scissors
  • Dissectors
  • Scalpels

Instrument Used in Procedure

Surgical Tool
© 2009 Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

While sitting at a console near the operating table, the doctor will look through lenses at a magnified 3D image of the inside of the body. Another doctor will stay by the table to adjust the camera and tools. With joystick-like controls and foot pedals, the doctor will do the surgery by guiding the robotic arms and tools. After the tools are removed, the doctor will use sutures or staples to close the surgical area.

How Long Will It Take?

About 2-4 hours (depending on the procedure)

Will It Hurt?

You will have pain and discomfort during recovery. Your doctor will give you pain medicine. You may also feel bloated or have pain in your shoulder from the gas used during the procedure. This can last up to three days.

Average Hospital Stay

About 1-2 days (depending on the procedure)

Post-procedure Care

When you return home, do the following to help ensure a smooth recovery:

  • For some procedures, a urine catheter will be left in place for a while. You will be instructed on how to care for this.
  • If advised by your doctor, take antibiotics. You will need to avoid other medicines. Talk to your doctor about which ones.
  • While resting, keep your legs elevated. Move your legs to avoid blood clots.
  • Avoid taking a bath during the first two weeks after surgery.
  • Wash the incisions with mild soap and water.
  • Drink plenty of fluids. This will help to clear your bladder.
  • Avoid ]]>constipation]]>. Eat a high-]]>fiber]]> diet. Drink plenty of water. Use stool softeners if necessary.
  • Avoid caffeinated beverages, alcohol, spicy foods, or other food or drink that might upset your stomach, intestines, or urinary tract.
  • Resume normal activities (eg, daily walks) soon. This will promote healing.
  • Limit certain activities (eg, driving, working, doing strenuous exercise) until you have recovered.
  • Be sure to follow your doctor's instructions.

Total recovery usually takes about 3-6 weeks.

Call Your Doctor

After you leave the hospital, contact your doctor if any of the following occurs:

  • Catheter stops draining or falls out (if you had a catheter placed)
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Heavy bleeding or clots in the urine
  • Pain, burning, urgency, or increased frequency of urination
  • Signs of infection, including fever and chills
  • Redness, swelling, increasing pain, excessive bleeding, or discharge from an incision site
  • Abdominal swelling or pain
  • Constipation, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
  • Cough, shortness of breath, or chest pain
  • Pain and/or swelling in your feet, calves, or legs
  • Other worrisome symptoms
In case of an emergency, CALL 911.