Robotic surgery, or robot-assisted surgery, allows doctors to perform many types of complex procedures with more precision, flexibility and control than is possible with conventional techniques. Robotic surgery is usually associated with minimally invasive surgery — procedures performed through tiny incisions. It is also sometimes used in certain traditional open surgical procedures.
About robotic surgery
Robotic surgery with the da Vinci Surgical System was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2000. The technique has been rapidly adopted by hospitals in the United States and Europe for use in the treatment of a wide range of conditions.
The most widely used clinical robotic surgical system includes a camera arm and mechanical arms with surgical instruments attached to them. The surgeon controls the arms while seated at a computer console near the operating table. The console gives the surgeon a high-definition, magnified, 3-D view of the surgical site. The surgeon leads other team members who assist during the operation.
Surgeons who use the robotic system find that for many procedures it enhances precision, flexibility and control during the operation and allows them to better see the site, compared with traditional techniques. Using robotic surgery, surgeons can perform delicate and complex procedures that may have been difficult or impossible with other methods.
Often, robotic surgery makes minimally invasive surgery possible. The benefits of minimally invasive surgery include:
- Fewer complications, such as surgical site infection
- Less pain and blood loss
- Quicker recovery
- Smaller, less noticeable scars
Robotic surgery involves risk, some of which may be similar to those of conventional open surgery, such as a small risk of infection and other complications.
Is robotic surgery right for you?
Robotic surgery isn't an option for everyone. Talk with your doctor about the benefits and risks of robotic surgery and how it compares with other techniques, such as other types of minimally invasive surgery and conventional open surgery.
Across the United States, the extent to which robotic surgery is used varies widely. Its use depends on a variety of factors. These may include physician training, equipment availability and cultural factors, such as what people are most comfortable doing and what other surgeons in the area do. One study of U.S. hospitals showed that some institutions have a culture that prefers traditional open surgery, while others prefer minimally invasive surgery.
- Experience and expertise. Robotic surgeries are complex procedures that require highly skilled and extensively trained surgeons. Mayo Clinic experts have used these techniques for decades in thousands of patients. This depth of experience helps doctors provide exactly the care you need.
- Teamwork. Mayo Clinic doctors in many specialties are trained in robotic surgery. They work together with staff in other areas to coordinate your care. During your surgery, doctors with expertise in robot-assisted techniques lead a trained surgical team.
- Advanced technology and research. People undergoing robot-assisted surgery at Mayo Clinic benefit from Mayo's advanced technology. In addition, Mayo Clinic researchers are committed to developing and sharing new robotic surgery techniques and evaluating their effectiveness.
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Surgeons and surgical team members who perform robotic-assisted procedures are specially trained to use this technology. Mayo Clinic surgeons perform a wide range of robotic surgeries, including:
- Robotic abdominal surgery and colon and rectal surgery
- Robotic cardiovascular surgery
- Robotic gynecologic surgery
- Robotic head and neck surgery
- Robotic urologic surgery
- Robotic arm system for partial knee replacement surgery
Not all procedures may be available at each Mayo Clinic location. Talk to your doctor about whether you are a candidate for this type of procedure and where it is available.
Robotic abdominal surgery and colon and rectal surgery
Mayo Clinic surgeons use robotic surgery to treat many types of abdominal conditions and colon and rectal conditions, including:
With the robot-assisted surgical technique, Mayo Clinic surgeons often may spare delicate nerves and prevent damage to nerves and tissues.
Robotic heart surgery
Mayo Clinic heart (cardiac) surgeons perform many minimally invasive heart surgeries, using the robotic system, such as heart valve repair and replacement and coronary bypass surgery.
Mayo Clinic surgeons treat many heart conditions using robotic surgery, including:
Robotic gynecologic surgery
Mayo Clinic doctors use the robotic system to conduct many gynecologic procedures, including robotic hysterectomy, robotic myomectomy and others.
Surgeons may use robotic surgery to treat many gynecologic conditions, including:
Robotic head and neck surgery
Mayo Clinic head and neck surgeons have extensive experience performing transoral robotic surgery to treat many conditions, including:
Using the robotic instruments, surgeons can operate in hard-to-reach areas of your mouth and throat with precision and flexibility. Surgeons also can visualize the surgical area far better in transoral robotic surgery than conventional open surgery.
Robotic urologic surgery
Mayo Clinic urologic surgeons perform robotic surgery to treat many conditions, including:
Radical prostatectomy was one of the first procedures for which robot-assisted surgery was widely used. Mayo Clinic urologic surgeons perform robotic prostatectomy to treat prostate cancer, robotic partial nephrectomy to remove part of the kidney, neobladder reconstruction to treat bladder cancer, and many other surgeries.
Robotic arm system for partial knee replacement surgery
Some Mayo Clinic surgeons use robotic-assisted surgical techniques during partial knee replacement surgeries. This approach helps the surgeon remove as little bone as possible and precisely align the artificial joint to the bone.
Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., ranks No. 1 for digestive disorders in the U.S. News & World Report Best Hospitals rankings. Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Ariz., and Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Fla., are ranked among the Best Hospitals for digestive disorders by U.S. News & World Report.
Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., is ranked among the Best Hospitals for heart and heart surgery by U.S. News & World Report.
Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., ranks No. 1 for gynecology in the U.S. News & World Report Best Hospitals rankings. Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Ariz., is ranked among the Best Hospitals for gynecology by U.S. News & World Report. Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Fla., is ranked high performing for gynecology by U.S. News & World Report.
Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., and Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Ariz., are ranked among the Best Hospitals for urology by U.S. News & World Report. Mayo Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Fla., is ranked high performing for urology by U.S. News & World Report.
Mayo Clinic works with hundreds of insurance companies and is an in-network provider for millions of people. In most cases, Mayo Clinic doesn't require a physician referral. Some insurers require referrals or may have additional requirements for certain medical care. All appointments are prioritized on the basis of medical need.
Mayo Clinic surgeons perform many types of robotic surgery. Doctors trained in gynecology, urology, cardiovascular and thoracic surgery, otorhinolaryngology, colon and rectal surgery, and other areas conduct robotic surgery to treat many conditions at Mayo Clinic's campus in Arizona.
For appointments or more information, call the Central Appointment Office at 800-446-2279 (toll-free) 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mountain Standard Time, Monday through Friday or complete an online appointment request form.
- U.S. Patients
- International Patients
Mayo Clinic surgeons perform many types of robotic surgery. Doctors trained in medical and surgical gynecology, urology, cardiothoracic surgery, otolaryngology, colon and rectal surgery, and other areas conduct robotic surgery to treat many conditions at Mayo Clinic's campus in Florida.
For appointments or more information, call the Central Appointment Office at 904-953-0853 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Eastern time, Monday through Friday or complete an online appointment request form.
- U.S. Patients
- International Patients
Mayo Clinic surgeons perform many types of robotic surgery. Doctors trained in obstetrics and gynecology, urology, cardiovascular surgery, colon and rectal surgery, otorhinolaryngology and other areas conduct robotic surgery to treat many conditions at Mayo Clinic's campus in Minnesota.
For appointments or more information, call the Central Appointment Office at 507-538-3270 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Central time, Monday through Friday or complete an online appointment request form.
- U.S. Patients
- International Patients
Mayo Clinic pediatric surgeons perform many types of robotic surgery.
For appointments or more information, call the Central Appointment Office at 507-538-3270 from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Central time, Monday through Friday, or call the Mayo Clinic Children's Center at 855-MAYO-KID (855-629-6543, toll-free) from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Central time, Monday through Friday. Or complete an online appointment request form.
See information on patient services at the three Mayo Clinic locations, including transportation options and lodging.
Mayo Clinic researchers study new techniques and types of robotic surgery to treat a variety of conditions. They also study the outcomes of robotic surgery compared with other techniques, such as minimally invasive surgery done by hand and conventional open surgery. Research helps you and your doctors determine the best treatment approach for your condition.
See a list of publications by Mayo doctors on robotic surgery on PubMed, a service of the National Library of Medicine.
- Erik P. Castle, M.D.
- Igor Frank, M.D.
- Matthew T. Gettman, M.D.
- Bobbie S. Gostout, M.D.
- Mitchell R. Humphreys, M.D.
- Michael L. Kendrick, M.D.
- Javier F. Magrina, M.D.
- Paul M. Magtibay, M.D.
- Eric J. Moore, M.D.
- Kerry D. Olsen, M.D.
- Daniel L. Price, M.D.
- Rakesh M. Suri, M.D., D.Phil.
- Matthew K. Tollefson, M.D.
July 02, 2015
- Cooper M, et al. Hospital level under-utilization of minimally invasive surgery in the United States: Retrospective review. BMJ. 2014;349:g4198.
- Barbash GI, et al. New technology and health care costs — The case of robot-assisted surgery. New England Journal of Medicine. 2010;363:701.
- FY 2000 ODE Annual Report - Part 1 — Advances in Patient Care. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. http://www.fda.gov/aboutfda/centersoffices/officeofmedicalproductsandtobacco/cdrh/cdrhreports/ucm130260.htm. Accessed Oct. 17, 2014.
- Computer-assisted (robotic) surgical systems. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. http://www.fda.gov/MedicalDevices/ProductsandMedicalProcedures/SurgeryandLifeSupport/ComputerAssistedRoboticSurgicalSystems/default.htm. Accessed Oct. 17, 2014.
- Wright JD, et al. Robotically assisted vs laparoscopic hysterectomy among women with benign gynecologic disease. JAMA. 2013;309:689.
- Wright JD, et al. Comparative effectiveness of robotically assisted compared with laparoscopic adnexal surgery for benign gynecologic disease. Obstetrics and Gynecology. 2014;124:886.