Should a robot perform your surgery?

September 28, 2011 Chirag A. Shah

Robotic surgery - the term implies some futuristic concept, a la the “Jetsons” or Isaac Asimov. As someone who was a science fiction fan growing up, I never thought I’d actually spend every day of my professional life answering this question.

As a gynecologic oncology surgeon, this is a question I now ask myself every time I pick up a patient’s chart. And the answer more times than not is YES! Why?

Our group just reviewed our 1st 1,000 robotic gynecologic surgeries. What did we find? Robotic surgery as compared to traditional “open” surgery was associated with shorter hospitalization (good), less blood loss and resultant need for blood transfusion (better), and fewer major complications (priceless!). We can now treat endometrial cancer, ovarian cancer, cervical cancer, as well as benign gynecologic conditions such as uterine fibroids, pelvic organ prolapse, endometriosis, and pelvic masses with the DaVinci robotic system.

Robotic surgery is now my default, and I reserve traditional open approaches for patients who do not meet the criteria for robotic surgery, of which there are fewer and fewer. It is now being applied to more and more conditions in a growing list of surgical fields. In my mind, it is the patient who benefits the most. Don’t hesitate to ask your physician if you’re a candidate.

(And, if you'd like to see the robot in action, watch a few of these videos.)

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