Robotic surgery involves utilizing a surgeon controlled bedside robot that physically moves the instruments inside the patient. The actual procedures being performed are essentially very similar to laparoscopy. While other robotic platforms exist and more may arise in the future, this is currently done at our institution with the daVinci system by Intuitive Surgical.
Robotic surgery begins with the surgeon at the bedside and insertion of trocars which are tube like ports giving access to the abdominal cavity. Instruments are then placed through the ports and physically controlled by a bedside robot that is remotely controlled by the surgeon at a console in the same room. Although the instruments are only 8 millimeters wide, the use of the robot allows for complex wristed movements not routinely available in traditional laparoscopy.
What are the Benefits?
Robotic surgery offers the same benefits of laparoscopic surgery. Both are considered minimally invasive surgery and offer numerous benefits over traditional open surgery. Any incision carries risk and that risk is proportional to the length of the incision. Incisions carry risk of infection, bleeding, hernia, as well as intra-abdominal adhesions and bowel obstructions. Other than medical risks, there is the factor of cosmesis and body image.
While both laparoscopy and robotic surgery enjoy the benefits of smaller incisions, robotic surgery specifically is able to achieve more complex movements of instruments. Therefore, it is reasonable to conclude that more complex surgery can be performed robotically.