Robotic surgery

By Mayo Clinic Staff

The daVinci robotic system being used in gynecologic surgery at Mayo Clinic Arizona allows gynecologists to perform advanced laparoscopic surgeries using a surgeon's console connected to three robotic arms.

The daVinci system, approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for gynecologic surgery in 2005, is one of the newest technologies available for the treatment of gynecologic cancer and other conditions. In Arizona, more than 350 procedures have been performed using the robot at Mayo Clinic.

The robotic system is used to assist with a variety of complex, minimally-invasive laparoscopic operations for benign and malignant female pelvic conditions, such as cancer of the uterus and cervix. "Robotic surgery is especially useful in the performance of hysterectomies, removal of fibroids while preserving the uterus, correction of vaginal prolapse, and for the treatment of gynecologic cancers," says Javier Magrina, M.D., gynecologist and surgeon at Mayo Clinic Arizona.

The daVinci system offers all the benefits of laparoscopic surgery along with increased precision and effectiveness. Patients undergoing laproscopic procedures typically experience less pain, have fewer instances of infection and recover more quickly than those undergoing open surgery.

"Robotic surgery is an upgraded form of minimally invasive surgery and is associated with major patient benefits. The robotic operation is more precise than conventional surgery and it allows a patient to return to normal activities much more quickly. We have also noted a reduced use of pain medications after robotic surgery, indicating less tissue trauma," says Magrina.

Many difficult laparoscopic procedures, such as laparoscopic suturing, are made easier by the robot through the use of the 3-D visualization and increased instrument maneuverability.

How the robotic system works

The robotic system consists of two interactive mechanical arms, a camera arm, a three-dimensional (3D) image processing system and a remote control unit. The unit is located in the same operating room as the patient.

As the surgeon manipulates the remote control unit, the motions of the surgeon are translated to the robotic arms. Each robotic arm consists of multiple appendages connected by joints. The "hand" of the robot holds interchangeable surgical instruments that can be moved in a manner similar to a human wrist. At all times, a second surgeon is positioned at the operating table to assist with exchanging the instruments on the robotic arms.