Robotic surgery is one of the latest innovations in laparoscopic surgery.
How does the robot help you see better while you are operating?
During open surgery, we usually stand one to two feet away from where we are operating. In the pelvis, we have to operate behind the pubic bone, so it is very difficult to see small nerves and blood vessels around a corner from that far away.
When I’m performing a regular laparoscopy, the camera is like only having one eye. This means that there is only two-dimensional vision – no depth perception. The more you practice, the better your learned depth perception gets.
However, it is much easier to see what I am doing with the robot because the robotic camera has the equivalent of two eyes. When I look in, I have normal depth perception as if my own eyes were able to get to where the camera can go. Now, we can drive the camera under the pubic bone and look at those nerves and blood vessels from inches away. The difference is night and day.
When do you like to use a robot?
The robot helps in tight spaces that require suturing so it is great for prostate and uterine surgeries. It helps in the pelvis, so it is good to use when treating rectal cancer and for repair of rectal prolapse.
Patients with pathology in one area are good candidates: those with prostate cancer, bladder cancer, rectal cancer, rectopexy, needing hysterectomy or ovaries removed.
What is the typical recovery time?
For a rectal resection, patients are generally in the hospital from four to seven days and recovering at home for about six weeks. Generally, there is less pain, less blood loss and shorter hospital stays than with open surgery.