Robot-Assisted Surgery - How It Works

Robotic surgery uses the latest advances in technology to combine the skill and judgment of an experienced surgeon with the incredible flexibility and precision of a robot. At Roswell Park, surgeons use the da Vinci® Surgical System to perform operations that used to require open surgery.

In open surgery, a large incision creates room for the surgeon’s hands and instruments needed for the operation. It’s difficult to see everything and use tools in this crowded space. With this robot-assisted surgery, the arms of the “robot” are the surgeon’s eyes and hands, designed to work in tight spaces inside the human body. One holds a lighted, high-definition camera that gives the surgeon a better view. Others hold the various surgical tools—more flexible and thinner than the human hand—so the surgeon can perform more precisely.

Robotic surgery takes place in an operating room that has been specially prepared for the procedure. The striking difference is that the surgeon is not at the operating table. The surgeon sits at a high-tech station nearby, looking through a special HD viewer that displays a three-dimensional, magnified picture from the camera arm of the robotic device. The surgeon’s hands and feet operate controls that translate the surgeon’s actions and allow them to make the intricate movements needed.

At the operating table surgical assistants monitor the patient and change the tools on the robotic arms. They have computer monitors that allow them to see what the surgeon sees, and microphones to communicate with the surgeon.