Until recently if you were diagnosed with a condition requiring surgery you could expect a large incision and a large scar as well. Relatively mew technology has begun to allow surgeons to conduct major procedures while only cutting three or four small incisions.
A breakthrough in surgical technology called the da Vinci Surgical System allows surgeons to offer a minimally invasive option as an alternative to conventional surgical procedures for qualified patients. This robotics-assisted method has been used to conduct minimally invasive heart surgery, and cancer surgery, as well as to treat prostate cancer, endometrial cancer, and mitral valve regurgitation.
There are currently two models of the da Vinci Surgical System, the primary difference being the number of surgical arms, three or four. For the purpose of this article we will assume we are talking about the three-arm model.
When using the da Vinci Surgical System the surgeon first makes three (or four) small incisions in the abdomen where three surgical rods will be inserted, the rods will be held in place by robotic arms. Two arms are capable of making incisions and adding sutures as needed. The third arm contains two endoscopic cameras that will send a three dimensional image to a monitor. The incisions required for the rods are approximately the same length as the diameter of a pencil.
Rather than standing over the patient with tools in hand the surgeon will now be seated a few feet away at a console that could be said to resemble a video game. The surgeon looks threw a viewfinder that displays a 3-d or stereoscopic image of the surgical site as well as the two arms with the surgical instruments mounted on them.
Underneath of the viewfinder there are joystick-style controls used to manipulate the rods that are inserted into the patient. A computer sends an electronic signal to the corresponding instrument as the surgeon moves a joystick. The instruments move in a synchronized motion with the joystick allowing surgical procedures to be completed without the need for large open incisions.
After successfully completing the procedure using the da Vinci Surgical System the surgeon will remove the surgical rods and suture the small incisions.
This relatively new method of robotic-assisted surgery offers the surgeon better visualization, precision, and control when compared with traditional techniques. It has the potential to offer the patient less pain, a shorter hospital stay, and a shorter recovery time not to mention a much smaller scar.