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Robotic Surgery: For a Faster, Less Painful Recovery

This interview appeared in the Fall 2017 issue of Barton's Health & Life publication.

How would you feel about a robot in your operating room? Since the da Vinci® Surgical System gained FDA approval in 2000 for use in the operating room, more than 3 million minimally invasive robotic procedures have been performed worldwide.

Barton Health acquired the da Vinci® Surgical System in 2012, and Sandra Taylor, MD, is a Barton Health surgeon who uses the technology. Here she answers common questions about da Vinci®.

Health & Life (HL): If I need surgery, why should I consider a robotic approach?
Dr. Taylor: Studies have shown robotic surgery to be as safe and effective as traditional surgery. What’s more, it may result in less time spent in the hospital, less pain, decreased blood loss, and decreased scarring.

HL: Having a robot operate on me sounds a little scary. Where is my surgeon in the process?

Dr. Taylor: The da Vinci® Surgical System isn't anything like R2-D2 of the Star Wars movies. Your surgeon will never say, “da Vinci®, take this patient’s gallbladder out while I go take a coffee break.”  Rather, the da Vinci® robot is always fully under the surgeon's control. This means the robotic arms are controlled by the surgeon’s own movements performed at a console. The robot arms move only when your surgeon moves, and they precisely replicate the movements of the surgeon’s own hands. I tell patients that using robotic instruments feels like inserting teeny-tiny versions of my own hands into the body. The bottom line is: It's your surgeon performing surgery, not the robot.

HL: If my surgeon is the one performing my surgery either way, why use the high-tech da Vinci®?
Dr. Taylor: Many types of surgery require a surgeon to perform complex movements within hard-to-reach areas of the body. Traditionally this required making large incisions so the surgeon could fit his or her own hands into the space. Large incisions are more painful, lengthen overall recovery time, and cause more scarring.  

HL: Is robotic surgery for everyone?
Dr. Taylor: Robotic surgery is just one approach to a surgical issue. Others include: laparoscopic surgery and open surgery which is done through a large incision. We consider many factors before deciding on the surgical approach for an individual patient. If surgery is recommended, ask your surgeon whether you are a suitable candidate for robotic surgery. It may just lead to a quicker, more comfortable recovery.
Sandra Taylor, MD is a surgeon at Barton General Surgery. She has nine years of experience in advanced trauma life support and extensive experience with da Vinci® robotic-assisted surgery. To learn more about Barton General Surgery or Dr. Taylor, call 530.543.5691 or visit bartonhealth.org/generalsurgery.

Types of Robotic Surgery Performed at Barton Health

Gynecological  Surgeries

  • Hysterectomy (removal of uterus)
  • Myomectomy (removal of fibroids of the uterus)

Urological Surgeries

  • Prostatectomy (removal of the prostate gland)
  • Total/partial nephrectomy (removal of all/part of the kidney)
  • Pyeloplasty (repair blockage of ureter)
  • Varicocele ligation (repair variocse veins of testis)

General Surgeries

  • Hernia Repair 
  • Cholecystectomy (removal of the gallbladder)
  • Segmental colectomy (removal of part of the colon)
  • Esophageal fundoplication (anti-acid reflux procedure)