How does da Vinci robotic surgery work?

Dr. Scott A. Kamelle, MD
Gynecologic Oncologist

Robotic surgery is an advanced form of laparoscopy. That is to say that it requires a camera for visualization that is placed inside the patient through a small hole in the skin called a port. In laparoscopy, a surgeon will place additional ports to pass instruments through that are required to perform the surgery. Robotic surgery is based upon the same principles. The difference however, is that the instruments and camera that are placed in the patient during the surgery are in fact connected to robotic "arms" and controlled by the surgeon at a physically separate console. So, once the robot is "hooked" up, the surgeon goes and sits at the console and manipulates the robotic arms and camera until the surgery is finished. The advantages of robotic surgery are many and include enhanced three dimensional visualization, improved dexterity and fine motor movements, as well as excellent ergonomics.

Working with a supporting surgical team, the surgeon operates wrist-attached master controls while seated at the da vinci robotic system console. The surgeon’s hand, wrist, and finger movements are seamlessly translated, with extraordinary control and range of motion, to very small surgical instruments positioned inside the patient. These instruments are manipulated by interactive robotic arms that precisely execute the surgeon’s movements and commands.

During this time, the specialized camera on one of the robotic arms and the robotic system’s 3-D visualization provide a view of the surgical field that is brighter, sharper and more magnified than images available through the human eye.

With the da Vinci robot-assisted surgery, the surgeon is able to see the surgical site as a high definition, 3D image. This enables the surgeon to see everything as though he or show is actually inside the body. It makes it easier to look at different organs and perceive depth.

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