How Does da Vinci Robotic Surgery Work?

More and more top surgeons are choosing to perform surgery with the help of robotic tools. At St. Luke's alone, more than 2,050 robotic surgeries have been performed in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Surgeries and procedures that once required large incisions and weeks of recovery are now minimally invasive, more effective and return patients to normal activities in a matter of days.

Robots in the Operating Room

There are several types of robots in use at St. Luke's. For cardiac care, St. Luke's is home to Iowa's only Hansen Sensei Robotic Catheter. For urological, gynecological and some general surgeries, the da Vinci Si Surgical Robot allows doctors to operate with greater precision and minimal discomfort for the patient.

The robotic surgery process. While the procedures vary, the process of robotic surgery typically involves the following:

  • Throughout the robotic surgery the surgeon sits at a special consol.
  • A very small 3D camera and dime-sized surgical instruments are placed inside the patient through tiny incisions. The camera gives the surgeon a magnified 360 degree view of the operative field.
  • Using the console's hand and foot controls, the surgeon remotely moves robotic arms attached to surgical instruments. A second surgeon is positioned at the operating table to confirm the correct placement of the surgical instruments.

Benefits of robotic surgery. Compared to traditional techniques, the very small incisions created by robotic surgery drastically reduce patients' time in the hospital and their risk of infections. The use of high-definition 3D cameras allows surgeons close-up views of areas they aren't able to see during open surgery. Fully articulating robotic arms mimic the movement of hands, allowing surgeons to have greater dexterity and control than is possible with conventional laparoscopic instruments.

Inside the OR. The diagram below illustrates the operating room layout for the da Vinci Surgical robot.

Robotic Surgery