da Vinci Surgery


What is a da Vinci surgery? What is the da Vinci Surgical System?

A da Vinci surgery is when your surgery is performed using the da Vinci Surgical System, a machine that uses four thin robotic arms. The robotic instruments have a wider range of motion than the human hand. Surgeons can use the surgical system for a variety of procedures.

The machine is made up of three different parts:

  • The console/control center. Your surgeon operates while seated at a console unit, using hand and foot controls and with a magnified, 3D, high-definition view.
  • The patient cart. The cart holds surgical instruments and the camera.
  • The vision cart. This cart has a video screen so that the healthcare providers in the room can see what’s happening during the surgery.

What’s the difference between a da Vinci surgery and an open surgery?

Use of the system makes your surgery “minimally invasive” (smaller incisions). The procedure uses small cuts (less than or equal to 1 centimeter long), tiny surgical instruments, fewer stitches and a laparoscope (a telescope) which is a thin tube with a light and a camera lens. This is different than traditional surgeries that use larger, more invasive cuts through skin, tissues and muscles.

What procedures can be performed with a da Vinci surgery?

The da Vinci Surgical System is designed to do several types of surgeries. However, not every type is available in every country, or at every hospital. Talk to your healthcare providers about whether or not your surgeon will use this machine. Possible surgeries include:

Cardiac (heart) surgeries:

Colorectal surgeries:

  • Crohn’s disease.
  • Colorectal cancer.
  • Diverticulitis.
  • Ulcerative colitis.
  • Abscesses, blockages and ruptures of the large intestine.
  • Rectal prolapse.

General surgeries (abdomen and digestive tract):

  • Liver conditions.
  • Stomach conditions.
  • Pancreas conditions.
  • Conditions of the intestines.
  • Gallbladder conditions.

Gynecology surgeries:

Head and neck surgeries.

  • Cancers.

Thoracic (chest) surgeries.

  • Cancers.

Urology surgeries:

  • Enlarged prostate.
  • Cancers.
  • Benign tumors.

How common are da Vinci surgeries?

Worldwide, there have been over seven million surgeries performed using the da Vinci system.

Are da Vinci surgeries available everywhere?

No. The da Vinci surgical system is available only in certain countries. Ask your healthcare provider if the surgeons they work with use one.

Procedure Details

How does the da Vinci surgical system work?

For a hysterectomy, which is a procedure that removes the uterus, the surgeon makes four or five small cuts instead of one long incision. The robotic surgical instruments are inserted into the holes and, sitting at the console, the surgeon uses the controls to remove the organ.

What kind of healthcare provider performs a da Vinci surgery?

Surgeons who use the da Vinci Surgical System go through additional training to learn how to use the machine.

How do I prepare for a da Vinci surgery?

You prepare for a da Vinci surgery the same way you prepare for an open surgery. Specific preparations depend on the type of surgery you’re getting, so you should ask your healthcare providers about the details.

How long does a da Vinci surgery last?

This depends on the procedure. On average, da Vinci surgeries tend to last an hour more than an open surgery.

Will I be asleep during the da Vinci surgery?

Yes. You will be under general anesthesia.

Risks / Benefits

What are the benefits of a da Vinci surgery?

The da Vinci System enables surgeons to perform even the most complex and delicate procedures through very small, precise incisions. Benefits may include:

During the procedure:

  • Less blood loss.
  • Less trauma.
  • Smaller cuts.

After the procedure:

  • Less pain.
  • Less scarring.
  • Fewer complications.
  • Shorter hospital stays.
  • Shorter recovery time.
  • Quicker return to normal daily activities.
  • Fewer infections.

Women who were previously not candidates for laparoscopic myomectomy to remove uterine fibroids now have an option that can preserve their uterus and potentially their fertility.

What are the risks/potential complications of a da Vinci surgery?

There are always risks with surgery, including reactions to anesthesia and bleeding. There are two disadvantages of the da Vinci surgery:

  • Your surgery will take longer.
  • The surgery may cost you more than a traditional surgery. Talk to your hospital’s billing department about costs.

Recovery and Outlook

How effective are da Vinci surgeries?

Although they take longer and may cost more, da Vinci surgeries are just as effective as open surgeries.

How long will I be in the hospital?

How long you’ll be in the hospital depends on the type of surgery you have and your healthcare providers’ recommendations. Studies have shown that if you have a da Vinci surgery, you’re likely to have a shorter hospital stay and may go home on the same day.

How long does it take to recover from a da Vinci surgery?

Again, this depends on the type of surgery. Talk to your healthcare providers about how long your particular healing process might take.

When to Call the Doctor

When should I see my healthcare provider after a da Vinci surgery?

Be sure to attend all follow-up appointments with your healthcare provider. You should also see a healthcare provider if you experience any of the following:

  • Redness, swelling, drainage or tenderness at the incision site. These are signs of infection.
  • A fever of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit (or higher).
  • Excessive bleeding.

When should I go to the emergency department?

Don’t hesitate to call 911 or go to the emergency department if you have suspicious symptoms. Remember, no matter what procedure you had, you should always see a healthcare provider right away if you experience:

  • Trouble breathing.
  • Chest pain.
  • Fainting.
  • Uncontrolled bleeding.
  • Pain that gets worse and is not relieved by your pain medication.

A note from Cleveland Clinic

Not every surgeon uses the da Vinci Surgical System. It’s not available at every hospital or for every type of surgery. However, da Vinci surgeries are becoming more and more popular as more healthcare providers learn about it. Speak with your own healthcare providers about the possibility of replacing an open surgery with a da Vinci surgery.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 05/24/2021.


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