Q. Does the robot do the surgery?
A. No, the surgeon does the operation. The robot is an instrument that allows the surgeon to operate in small spaces in the body. It essentially makes the surgeon’s hands two seven millimeter instruments.
Q. Do you do the entire surgery yourself, from beginning to end?
A. Yes, I am present throughout and conduct every step of the surgery. The use of the word robotic is sometimes confusing to people. I am assisted by the robotic technology, but the machine, which is merely an advanced aid, could never function without me. I never leave the room and I perform every step of the operation myself.
Q. What are the major benefits of da Vinci robotic Surgery over traditional methods of surgery to a patient?
A. Some of the major benefits experienced by surgeons using the da Vinci Surgical System over traditional approaches have been greater surgical precision, increased range of motion, improved dexterity, enhanced visualization and improved access. Benefits experienced by patients may include a shorter hospital stay, less pain, less risk of infection, less blood loss, fewer transfusions, less scarring, faster recovery and a quicker return to normal daily activities. None of these benefits can be guaranteed, as surgery is necessarily both patient- and procedure-specific.
Q. Why is there less risk to a patient?
A. The enhanced three-dimensional view with magnification can allow the surgeon to see blood vessels even more easily than is possible with open surgery. This superior visualization along with precise movement of the surgeon-controlled robotic arms improves the ability to expose and control blood vessels adjacent to the surgical field. Blood loss is also reduced because the pressure generated by the gas used to inflate the abdomen during surgery compresses small blood vessels, which provides surgeons with a better and more expansive view of the operating area.
Q. How much pain will I be in?
A. Since the surgery is done through a small incision, most patients experience much less post procedure pain then with open surgery. Patients tend to need much less pain medication. After one week, most are feeling no pain at all. Also, there is a decreased risk of post-operative hernias.
Q. When can I exercise?
A. Light walking is encouraged right after the procedure. After 2 weeks, jogging and aerobic exercise is permitted. After four weeks, heavy lifting can resume.
Q. How can I opt for robotic surgery?
A. Patients cannot opt for robotic surgery by themselves. If a patient requests robotic surgery, a specialist in the particular field will need to review the patient and his reports to ensure that the patient is suitable for robotic surgery. The patient is encouraged to consult his own doctor too. Robotic Surgery is an option that a patient can elect ONLY IF all the concerned doctors agree that it is a better option. Robotic Surgery is offered to a patient as a alternative to conventional surgery only when a patient has met all necessary criteria.
Q. What are the patient criteria for robotic surgery?
A. Not all patients are suitable for robotic surgery. Severe medical problems and/or advanced age may mean that the patient cannot tolerate the special positioning and length of the procedure. Severe obesity is a common limitation, although robotic surgery can sometimes be successful when standard laparoscopy is not feasible. Severe intra-abdominal adhesions due to previous surgery may prevent a minimally invasive approach. UC Davis’ surgeons will discuss your treatment options and help you decide the best course of action.
Q. If I decide to go with radiation instead of surgery, can I have surgery later, if the radiation treatment is unsuccessful?
A. Surgery is not an option after radiation treatment. However, the reverse is possible. If you choose surgery, and your doctor determines after the operation that the cancer has returned, you may, at that point, choose radiation. Radiation depletes the body and weakens its immune response.
Q. How common is da Vinci Robotic Surgery?
A. Currently, The da Vinci Surgical System is being used in hundreds of locations worldwide, in major centers in the United States, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, India, Japan, the Netherlands, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, Australia and Turkey.
Q. What if the robot fails during my surgery?
A. This would be an extremely rare occurrence. The machine is built to very strict quality standards, and is constantly maintained to a very demanding set of mandated inspections. It is also inspected before every surgery to very strict and mandated criteria of checks. Nevertheless, the surgeon and the Operation theatre team is always prepared to (and able to) convert the surgery to a laparoscopic surgery or an open surgery.
Q. Is robotic surgery more expensive and will my health insurance pay for the cost of a robotic surgery procedure?
A. The cost of surgery will be marginally more than a laparoscopic surgery, but this cost is offset by the reduced cost of a shorter hospital stay, and a early return to work. There is also the ‘savings’ of minimal or no blood transfusion, the advantage of less pain with superior results and better cosmetic results.
Q. Will my insurance cover da Vinci robotic surgery?
A. The majority of insurance companies pay for this surgery as they would the traditional open or laparoscopic prostatectomy; however there are exceptions. Please consult with your carrier to confirm your coverage prior to surgery.
If you would like to explore whether you are a candidate for myomectomy, please download patient brochure HERE.