Robotic surgery is a method to perform surgery using very small tools attached to a robotic arm. The surgeon controls the robotic arm with a computer.

To operate, the surgeon sits at a robot console a few metres away from the patient. In the consol are two telemanipulators which the surgeons controls with her fingers. A telemanipulator allows her to perform the normal movements associated with the surgery whilst the robotic arms carry out those movements using end-effectors and manipulators to perform the actual surgery on the patient.

The advantage of the robot is:

  • Enables a 3-dimensional image of the internal surgical area (compared to 2D for standard laparoscopic approach).
  • The robotic arms are particularly fine in movements, allowing some manipulations that are more dexterous than human hands and fingers can achieve.

Recent research has shown that robot operations have some advantages over non-robotic procedures. Given the very dexterous nature of the robotic arms and instruments, surgical incisions can be even more exacting. This in turn will reduced healing times as surgeons can minimise damage to non-affected areas.

In urology, the robot is most commonly used for radical prostatectomy (removal of the prostate cancer). In the United States, 90% of radical prostatectomies are performed with the robot. Other operations for which the robot is a benefit are partial nephrectomy, pyeloplasty, partial cystectomy and ureteric re-implantation.