The most common gastrointestinal cancer, over 146,000 Americans each year are diagnosed with colorectal cancer. The primary treatment is surgery, and there has been tremendous advances in surgical techniques over the past few decades. Minimally invasive approaches to colorectal cancer have proven to be as effective as traditional open surgery on cancer outcomes, while improving results for short term recovery and quality of life. The benefits of minimally invasive surgery include: smaller incisions, shorter hospital stays, less postoperative pain and quicker time to resumption of work and normal activities.
If your doctor recommends surgery to treat a colorectal cancer, you may be a candidate for minimally invasive robotic surgery. Using state-of-the-art technology, the da Vinci System enables doctors to perform delicate and complex operations through a few tiny incisions with breakthrough vision, precision, dexterity and control. The robotic approach can facilitate visualization in difficult locations such as the deep pelvis, allowing for more precise dissections and less blood loss. This can translate to better patient outcomes in many situations, especially in allowing for sphincter-preserving surgery and avoiding the need for permanent “bags” or colostomies.
Robot-assisted colorectal procedures are performed using the da Vinci® Surgical System. Instead of standing and operating over the patient at the bedside, the surgeon sits at a special station and sees a 3-dimensional (3-D) view of the surgery. This special camera magnifies the image 10 times larger than normal. The station allows the surgeon to expertly manipulate the arms of the robot. Foot controls allow the surgeon to operate using four arms rather than two. The arms of the robot have interchangeable tools that allow the surgeon to perform very intricate surgery. The tools of the robot are very small, but are more flexible and more mobile than the surgeon’s fingers. This allows surgeons to complete complex surgeries using smaller incisions in more confined regions of the body.