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Robotic Surgery: What You Should Know

Robotic Surgery: What You Should Know

What is robotic-assisted surgery?

Rather than having a traditional open incision, robot-assisted laparoscopic surgery (or robotic surgery) has taken minimally-invasive surgery one step further. Many common surgical procedures are now being performed laparoscopically – with small incisions to pass a camera and small instruments through.

The surgical robot now assists by allowing the surgeon to have the camera view magnified in 3D and use more advanced instruments that can be precisely controlled from the operative console.

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Interested in Robotic Surgery?

Ochsner Medical Center - North Shore offers robotic-assisted surgery with the da Vinci Surgical System for specialties such as urology, general surgery, bariatrics and thoracic. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Michael Pinsky, Urologist, or another surgeon, call 985-639-3777.

How does it work?

Just like in laparoscopic surgery, the surgeon still places access ports in the surgical site that the camera and instruments will pass through. Instead of standing at the patient's side holding those instruments in hand, the surgeon and surgery team attach those instruments to the surgical robot.

The surgeon then has a console in the room with a magnified 3D view inside the patient and controls the camera and instruments with precise hand controls. The surgeon's hand, wrist and finger movements are translated to the instruments to complete the procedure. A surgical assistant remains at the bedside of the patient to pass the surgeon necessary equipment and to help change out the instruments as directed by the surgeon.

Is it safe?

Absolutely. Though it is called "robotic surgery," a robot is not performing the surgery. Your surgeon is in complete control for the entire procedure, and the robot serves as an advanced surgical tool to translate the surgeon's hand movements into smaller, more precise movements of the operative instruments while also allowing enhanced visualization of the operative field.

All surgeries have associated risks, and the use of robot-assisted surgery actually helps minimize many of these risks.

How are physicians trained?

Robotic-assisted surgery has been integrated into many of the country's top surgical training programs, allowing physicians to develop their skills and specialize in this form of surgery. Other experienced physicians who have been performing comparable laparoscopic or open procedures throughout their career are also able to make the transition to robotics with additional training courses on use of the equipment, as they are already accustomed to performing these procedures. Surgical simulators, hands-on training and mentoring/proctorships are all a part of this process to make sure each robotic surgeon is proficient in this type of surgery.

What are the advantages of robotic surgery?

The advantages are many and include smaller incisions and faster healing, shorter hospital stays (can often be an overnight stay depending on the procedure), less blood loss and lower rates of blood transfusion, more advanced surgical techniques and lower complication rates.

What procedures is it available for?

Robotic-assisted surgery is currently offered for major procedures in urologic surgery, general surgery (including colorectal and bariatric), gynecological surgery, cardiothoracic surgery and many more specialties. 

In urology, robotic surgery is available to manage prostate cancer (prostatectomy), kidney masses and kidney cancer (partial or radical nephrectomy), obstructed or blocked kidneys and ureters (pyeloplasty and ureteroureterostmy), complex kidney stones (pyelolithotomy and ureterolithotomy), invasive bladder cancer (cystectomy) and more.

In general surgery, robotic surgery is available for hernia repairs (inguinal, ventral and abdominal), colon resections, bariatric or weight loss surgery, removal of gallbladder (cholecystectomy) and much more.

Ochsner Medical Center - North Shore offers robotic-assisted surgeries with Dr. Asahel Gridley (Bariatrics), Dr. Joshua Parks (General Surgery), Dr. Richard LeBlanc (General Surgery), Dr. Gary Wolf (General Surgery), Dr. Michael Pinsky (Urology) and Dr. Gregory Groglio (Cardiothoracic Surgery). Ask your doctor if a robotic approach is right for your next surgery. 

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