Advantages and Disadvantages of Robotic Technology in Urology

Robot-assisted (robotic) surgery uses small instruments attached to a robot’s arm to conduct surgical procedures. A qualified, highly-skilled surgeon controls the robotic arm, using it to enhance surgical precision. In fact, contrary to popular beliefs, it’s the surgeon behind the robot and not the robot itself that performs the procedure. The robot improves surgical outcomes and boosts patient safety by enabling the surgeon to use very tiny incisions and to achieve unmatched precision.

Robotic surgery in urology

Robot-assisted surgery has become very popular in urology, particularly in the United States. In urology centers where it is used, it’s extensively applied in surgery to excise prostate cancer as it enables access to anatomical areas that are difficult to reach. Other urologists use it for kidney cancer surgeries and to some extent in bladder surgeries. Through robot-assisted procedures, urologists are able to use the surgical assistance, enhanced precision, systems networking, dexterity and image-guidance made possible with robots. Urologists are able to easily perform complex procedures that are often difficult to do using conventional laparoscopy.

Pre-operation discussion

While robotics are excellent tools that improve the outcome of surgical procedures, they are not ideal for every situation. The need and value of robot-assisted surgery varies from case to case and it’s important to discuss this with your urologist before undergoing surgery. Being clearly informed of the benefits and risks associated with robotic surgery ensures that you can make an informed decision before the procedure.

Advantages of robot-assisted surgery

Robotic surgery is typically minimally invasive. So the patient suffers less pain, slight blood loss and minimal scarring, and requires only a short recovery time. With the robotic arm eliminating the natural limits of human wrists, surgery can be performed with more delicate, precise and efficient movements. The 3D imaging and endowrist technology of robots ensure surgery is more accurate, nerve bundles are dissected more precisely, erectile function is preserved, and there is a better chance of cure than with non-robotic surgery. The surgeon also enjoys more strength, dexterity, flexibility, control and a better view of the operated area. Robotic surgery allows the surgeon to get more comfortable, perform the procedure with increased concentration and focus, and can undertake complex procedures that are tougher or impossible with other techniques.

Disadvantages of robot-assisted surgery

With robot-assisted surgery, there is not only the risk of human error when operating the robotic system, but also the potential for mechanical failure. For instance, system components such as robotic arms, camera, robotic tower, binocular lenses and instruments can fail. In other cases, the electrical current in the robotic instrument can leave the robotic arm and be misapplied to surrounding tissues, resulting in accidental burn injuries. Likewise, robot-assisted surgery can cause nerve palsies due to extreme body positioning or direct nerve compression that may occur when using robots. It also takes longer to perform robotic surgery than non-robotic surgery in surgical centers with lower robotic volume or by less experienced surgeons.

Ways of improving robot-assisted surgery

It’s important that centers applying robotics follow standardized training, improved reporting and enhanced patient education to reduce errors related to robotic surgery. Robotic surgery should be conducted by urologic surgeons trained in robotics and have extensive robotic and laparoscopic surgical experience. It also must be remembered that adding robots to the surgical equation may create room for error in an already risk-fraught and complex arena. So proper steps must be taken to guarantee safe and effective robot-assisted procedures. Robotic surgery is getting better and better as more advanced robots are developed to overcome existing shortcomings. So patients should expect better outcomes with robot-assisted surgery as advanced machines are applied.

At Advanced Urology Institute, we believe that surgical outcomes are a direct manifestation of the experience and skill of the surgeon, and less about the approach or technology used. That’s why we have assembled a team of qualified, skilled and experienced urologists to offer surgical procedures for different urological disorders. Our urologists perform hundreds of laparoscopic and robotic surgeries every year and have achieved great success rates in terms of efficacy, cure and improved quality of life. Our approach to robotic surgery guarantees that you will get the best possible surgery with remarkable outcomes. For more information, visit the “Advanced Urology Institute” site.