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FAQs about Robotic Surgery

  • What is Robotic Surgery?

    Robotic surgery is a type of minimally invasive keyhole surgery that involves the use of very small tools attached to a robotic arm, which is controlled by the surgeon via a console. This essentially translates the movements of the surgeon's hands to 2 seven-millimeter instruments, allowing the surgeon to accurately and dexterously operate in small spaces in the body.

  • What are the major benefits of da Vinci® robotic surgery over traditional methods of surgery?

    The da Vinci® surgical system offers benefits to both patients and doctors. Surgeons using the system have reported benefits such as greater surgical precision, increased range of motion, improved dexterity, enhanced visualisation and improved access.

    Benefits experienced by patients include:

    • a shorter hospital stay
    • less pain
    • reduced risk of infection
    • less blood loss
    • fewer transfusions
    • minimal scarring
    • faster recovery
    • a quicker return to normal daily activities

    However, none of these benefits can be guaranteed as surgery is specific to each patient and procedure.


    Why does robotic surgery present less risk to a patient?

    The enhanced 3-dimensional view with magnification allows the surgeon to see the blood vessels better through a more detailed view than is possible with open surgery. This superior visualisation, along with precise movements 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.


    How much pain will I be in?

    Since the surgery is done through a small incision, most patients experience much less post-operative pain as compared to open surgery. This means less pain medication is needed. In general, most patients feel little or no pain after one week. There is also a decreased risk of post-operative hernias.


    Why does robotic surgery present less risk to a patient?

    The enhanced 3-dimensional view with magnification allows the surgeon to see the blood vessels better through a more detailed view than is possible with open surgery. This superior visualisation, along with precise movements 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.


    When can I exercise?

    Light walking is encouraged right after the procedure. After two weeks, jogging and aerobic exercise is permitted. After a month, you may resume heavy lifting.


    How can I opt for robotic surgery?

    Patients cannot opt for robotic surgery themselves. Robotic surgery is offered to a patient as an alternative to conventional surgery only when he has met all necessary criteria. If a patient requests for robotic surgery, a specialist will need to review the patient and his reports to ensure that the patient is suitable for robotic surgery. Robotic Surgery is an option that a patient can elect ONLY IF all the concerned doctors agree that it is a better option.


    What are the patient criteria for robotic surgery?

    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/minimally invasive surgery is not feasible. Severe intra-abdominal adhesions due to previous surgery may also prevent a minimally invasive approach. Our experienced surgeons will discuss your treatment options and help you decide the best course of action.


    If I decide to undergo radiation instead of surgery, can I have surgery later if the radiation treatment Is unsuccessful?

    Surgery is not an option after radiation treatment. This is because radiation depletes the body and weakens its immune response. 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.


    How common is the da Vinci® robotic surgery?

    Currently, the da Vinci® surgical system is used in hundreds of locations worldwide, in major centres in the US, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, India, Japan, the Netherlands, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Sweden, Switzerland, the UK, Australia and Turkey.


    What if the robot fails during my surgery?

    This would be an extremely rare occurrence. The machine is built to very strict quality standards and constantly maintained through a very demanding set of mandated inspections. It is also inspected before every surgery, according to a very strict mandatory criteria of checks. Nevertheless, the surgeon and the operation theatre team are always prepared and able to convert the surgery to a laparoscopic/minimally invasive surgery or an open surgery.


    Is robotic surgery more expensive?

    While the cost of robotic surgery will be marginally more than a laparoscopic/minimally invasive surgery, this cost is offset by the reduced cost of shorter hospital stay and an early return to work. There are also intangible savings of minimal or no blood transfusion, the advantage of less pain with superior results and better cosmetic results.


    Will my health insurance cover the cost of da Vinci® robotic surgery?

    While the majority of insurance companies will pay for this surgery as they would the traditional open or laparoscopic prostatectomy (surgical procedure for the prostate), there are exceptions. As such, we advise that you consult your insurance agent to confirm your coverage prior to surgery.

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