Robotic-assisted surgery is the latest development in minimally invasive surgery (MIS). It provides surgeons the flexibility of traditional open surgery while operating through tiny incisions, which can lead to fewer complications during surgery and a shorter recovery period for patients.

Robotic-assisted surgery systems integrate robotics, computer technology and surgical skill to transform traditionally invasive surgeries into minimally invasive procedures. Though surgeons have been using robots to assist in surgical procedures since the 1980s, many advances in robotic technologies have taken place more recently.

What Is Robotic-Assisted Surgery?

Robotic-assisted surgery involves the use of robotic equipment to make tiny incisions (one to two centimeters in length) during surgery. An HD 3-D camera is then inserted, allowing surgeons to manipulate four thin robotic arms with miniaturized instruments.

In control the entire time, surgeons use hand and foot controls at a nearby console unit, which provides 3D, high-definition view of the surgical field. Robotic-assisted surgery can simulate a traditional open surgical environment without causing unnecessary physical trauma from large incisions.

Benefits of Robotic-Assisted Surgery

One of the latest advances in robotic-assisted surgery provides a platform for future procedures such as single site surgery and immunofluorescent technology, a laboratory technique that combines specific antibodies with fluorescence imaging techniques to identify target proteins and other biomolecules within tissue samples.

Benefits include:

  • A more compact design
  • Improved vision with up to 10x magnification
  • Increased range of motion for the surgeon’s wrists and fingers and improved ergonomics
  • Enhanced patient safety measures and increased efficiency.

By ensuring that physical trauma due to incisions is minimal, patients are also able to recover much faster than with traditional surgery. Depending on the surgical procedure performed, some patients may need to stay at the hospital for only a day or two, while others may be able to leave the hospital that same day. Most patients fully recover from surgery in as few as six weeks.

Types of Robotic-Assisted Surgery

Robotic-assisted surgery can be used to perform a variety of procedures for qualified candidates. Some of the procedures offered at Memorial Hermann include:

General surgery

  • Incisional hernia
  • Inguinal hernia

Robotic-Assisted Cardiac Surgery

  • Coronary artery bypass graft (CABG), a surgical procedure used to treat coronary heart disease in which the surgeon diverts blood around narrowed or clogged parts of major arteries to improve blood flow and oxygen supply to the heart
  • Heart valve repair and replacement, including repair and replacement of mitral and tricuspid heart valves
  • Atrial septal defect (ASD) repair, to correct a congenital (present at birth) heart defect in which a hole exists in the wall (septum) separating the upper heart chambers
  • Septal myectomy, a procedure—traditionally performed as open-heart surgery—to treat hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (thickening of the heart muscle)
  • Maze procedure, for the treatment of atrial fibrillation (AFib)
  • Tumor resection (removal of tumors of the heart)
  • Left ventricular (LV) pacing lead placement, for implementation of a pacemaker to regulate the heart rate

Thoracic surgery

  • Heller myotomy – a surgical procedure in which the muscles of the lower esophageal sphincter are cut, allowing food and liquids to pass to the stomach
  • Nissen fundoplication – surgical procedure for GERD or reflux

Urologic surgery

  • Pyeloplasty – the surgical reconstruction or revision of the renal pelvis to drain and decompress the kidney
  •  Bladder augmentation through cystoplasty – a surgical solution to urinary incontinence that is considered after conservative therapy has failed
  • Vasectomy and vasectomy reversal

Gynecological surgery

  • Hysterectomy – the surgical removal of the uterus
  • Myomectomy – the surgical removal of uterine fibroids

Other procedures offered:

Other robotic-assisted systems used in knee replacement can be less invasive than traditional total knee surgery and involve using a highly advanced, surgeon-controlled robotic arm system.

Learn more about this advanced technology and find out if you’re a candidate by visiting our Knee Replacement surgery page and taking our candidate quiz.

Memorial Hermann Surgical Innovation & Robotics Institute

The Memorial Hermann Surgical Innovation & Robotics Institute is the largest training site for robotic surgery in the nation and the only one in the southwest. Since January 2003, the Institute has trained numerous surgical teams from around the country to perform robotic-assisted surgery. By utilizing simulation technology, surgeons are able to further refine their surgical skills in a non-clinical environment.

Robotic and Minimally Invasive Procedures at Memorial Hermann

With over 10,000 minimally invasive procedures already performed at our hospitals and state-of-the-art training simulators, the affiliated general surgeons at Memorial Hermann have helped make robotic-assisted surgery an incredibly safe and viable alternative for our patients.

Robotic-assisted surgery is available at Memorial Hermann hospitals throughout the Greater Houston area, including:

  • Memorial Hermann Cypress Hospital
  • Memorial Hermann Greater Heights
  • Memorial Hermann Katy Hospital
  • Memorial Hermann Memorial City Medical Center
  • Memorial Hermann Northeast Hospital
  • Memorial Hermann Southeast Hospital
  • Memorial Hermann Southwest Hospital
  • Memorial Hermann Sugar Land Hospital
  • Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center
  • Memorial Hermann The Woodlands Medical Center

To find out if robotic-assisted or other types of minimally invasive surgery are right for you, speak to your physician. They can explain the benefits and risks associated with all surgical procedures, and provide you with the surgical and non-surgical options available to help you make an informed decision about your health.

For more information about robotic-assisted surgery, schedule an appointment today with a Memorial Hermann-affiliated physician using our online ScheduleNow portal or by calling (713) 222-CARE.

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