Surgical robots have been a game changer. Over the last 18 years, momentous strides have been made in robotic-assisted surgery, and new applications are constantly being discovered. But there are still many misconceptions. We talked to surgery experts from the seven HCA Midwest Health KC hospitals to get some clarity.
What is robotic surgery?
No, robots are not replacing your surgeon, but that is a common misconception. Think of a surgical robot as another tool for your doctor. Surgical robots are computer-controlled devices that can be programmed to assist in the positioning and control of surgical instruments. The surgeon is still in the same room as the patient and is in full control.
Is robotic surgery minimally invasive?
Robotic-assisted surgery doesn’t necessarily equate to minimally invasive surgery (also known as laparoscopic surgery), although many types of robotic technology do allow for less invasive surgical techniques. Each type of robotic technology will use a different technique and offer different benefits to both the surgeon and the patient.
A surgery is considered minimally invasive when techniques are used to reduce effects to the body in comparison with open surgery. In general, minimally invasive surgery can offer the benefits of less pain, a shorter hospital stay and fewer complications. (Note, minimally invasive surgery will usually include smaller incisions, but can sometimes refer to surgical approaches that reduce impact on muscles, bones or ligaments.)
Laparoscopic robotic surgical systems allow physicians to perform surgery through a few small incisions, similar to traditional laparoscopy. Five HCA Midwest Health hospitals (Centerpoint Medical Center, Lee’s Summit Medical Center, Menorah Medical Center, Overland Park Regional Medical Center and Research Medical Center) use the da Vinci Surgical® System which can be used to perform a variety of minimally invasive robotic-assisted surgeries from hernia repairs and bariatric procedures, to colorectal and liver resections.
When performing surgery using the da Vinci system, the surgeon sits at a console in the surgical suite. The console allows the surgeon to see a 3D high-definition view of the operating field (area they are operating on) with up to ten times magnification. They perform the surgery by moving the handles that the robotic arms then mirror.
What does robotic-assisted laparoscopy mean for patients?
Robotic technology allows surgeons to successfully complete very challenging cases that they may have struggled with or may have not been able to complete laparoscopically. The surgeon’s hand movements are replicated into smaller, more precise movements through instruments which can bend and rotate far greater than human hands. This allows the surgeon to perform surgery with incredible precision and detail. The robot can offer better visibility, instrument control and dexterity, and can let surgeons operate in very small areas or areas that may have been difficult to reach otherwise.
Robotic-assisted laparoscopy has all the benefits of traditional laparoscopic surgery, which may include:
- Less postoperative pain
- Smaller incisions that may be more cosmetically pleasing
- Shorter hospital stay
- Shorter recovery time
- Less blood loss
What are the applications for robotic-assisted laparoscopy?
Robotic use in surgery is constantly growing. At HCA Midwest Health, we continually strive to make the healthcare experience better and more effective for our patients. By continuing to invest in new technology and recruiting surgeons practicing the latest techniques, we are able to stay on the cutting-edge of what’s happening in healthcare.
Today, five of our Kansas City area hospitals offer robotic surgery options for adult patients across a wide range of specialties. We also offer pediatric robotic surgery at Overland Park Regional Medical Center.
Centerpoint Medical Center
Lee’s Summit Medical Center
Menorah Medical Center
Overland Park Regional Medical Center
- Removal of chest masses
Research Medical Center
Other types of robotic surgery
Although robotic-assisted laparoscopy is used in a variety of surgical specialties, it is not applicable in all. However, robotic technology can offer great benefits when combined with other surgical techniques in specialties such as orthopedics.
Centerpoint Medical Center offers a robotic-assisted partial knee replacement option to patients. Unlike the da Vinci robot, the NAVIO™ Surgical System uses a hand-held robotic surgical instrument as opposed to a console. The robotic assistance helps the surgeon to position the implant more accurately based on a patient’s unique anatomy. This level of precision may lead to improved function, feel and longevity of the implant.
Overland Park Regional Medical Center is the only hospital in Kansas City offering total hip, total knee and partial knee replacements using the Mako™ Robotic-Arm Assisted Surgery System. This technology allows the surgeon to personalize a patient’s surgical plan based on their unique anatomy. The surgeon then guides the robotic arm within a predefined area. The technology does not allow the surgeon to go outside the defined surgical space, reducing the potential for error. This state-of-the-art technology helps to place and align the implant more accurately.
Is robotic surgery always the best option?
Robotic surgery isn’t always necessary, and not everyone is a candidate. There are many advanced surgical options that are not robotic. Conventional minimally invasive surgeries can offer patients several benefits. All of the seven HCA Midwest Health hospitals offer minimally invasive surgery across a variety of specialties.
Patients should be evaluated on an individual basis to determine the most effective treatment plan for them. It’s important for patients to be comfortable with their doctor and for the surgeon to be comfortable with the surgical method. Patients should discuss their goals and the surgical approach with their physician.