Robotic surgery systems have given surgeons amazing new capabilities. So you might be inclined to think, "It's all about the robot"—and not about the surgeon.
But actually, it is still crucial to choose your surgeon carefully. In fact, it may be more important than ever before.
Here are five reasons robotic surgery is not all about the robot:
During robotic surgery, there is no point when the robot "takes over" and does the surgery by itself. Every movement is precisely controlled by your surgeon.
Throughout the surgery, your surgeon will see a magnified high-definition image of the surgical site while moving controllers that are linked to surgical tools.
The robotic surgery system is sometimes described as a "slave robot." In other words, it only moves as it is commanded to move by your surgeon.
Every tool—whether it is a computer, a power drill, or a pen—works best in the hands of an expert. This holds true with robotic surgery systems, too.
The da Vinci Surgical System is one of the most advanced tools ever created for surgery. But it is still a tool—and requires an expert to use it with mastery and finesse.
With every surgery, thorough knowledge of anatomy is critical. This is true for traditional open surgeries, and it is no less true for robotic surgeries.
For example, during a prostatectomy the surgeon must be careful to avoid damaging nerves, the urethra and other nearby organs. Similar kinds of anatomic knowledge are necessary for surgeries on any part of the body.
While the robotic surgery system helps a surgeon to be exceptionally precise, it is no substitute for highly specialized knowledge of anatomy.
While robotic surgery gives surgeons more capabilities, it also adds a new level of complexity.
During robotic surgery, your surgeon will insert tiny surgical tools into the body through very small incisions. Your surgeon will then control the movement of those tools with both hands and both feet while viewing a magnified 3D image through a computer console.
Having the best and most experienced surgeon helps ensure mastery of these complexities—and the best possible outcome.
Robotic surgery has changed a great deal. But two things remain as true as ever:
Education and experience make outcomes better. In robotic surgery, and in virtually every human pursuit.
Yes, it is important to make sure a surgery center offers the latest robotic surgery system. But it's even more critical to find the most knowledgeable and experienced surgeon to make that robot do all that it was intended to do.