Surgeons turn to robotic-assisted surgery when patients require minimally invasive surgeries. Surgeons make small incisions in the body and insert miniaturized instruments and high definition cameras before controlling all instruments from a nearby console.
Robot-assisted surgery enables surgeons to better monitor their progress during robotic-assisted procedures than with traditional laparoscopic methods.
TORS for Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)
Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is a serious disorder in which the airway collapses temporarily, restricting air flow. This results in low levels of oxygen reaching your cells causing snoring and daytime fatigue, potentially leading to surgery as a potential solution if non-invasive treatments fail.
MedStar Health employs transoral robotic surgery (TORS) as an effective solution for treating obstructive sleep apnea and certain head and neck cancers. TORS allows us to perform surgery in the upper throat area – including tonsils and base of tongue. In previous surgeries, in order to access these hard-to-reach places, large incisions would have needed to be made in facial bone structure before TORS could gain access.
TORS can provide significant relief for patients suffering from obstructive sleep apnea. Through this procedure, excess or enlarged tonsil tissue that blocks upper airway is removed while also reshaping them to improve airflow through nose and throat.
Researchers discovered in an earlier study that surgical success for OSA could be measured based on two criteria: volume of tonsil tissue removed and pre-operative body mass index. They further reported that surgery improved or eliminated obstructive sleep apnea for 82% of those diagnosed with Friedman stage 1 to 3 OSA.
Robotic surgery allows surgeons to direct robot movement using an endoscope. Ports are then inserted through small cuts in your body; these hold robot arms with surgical instruments attached that can be maneuvered as necessary by the surgeon, who also sees three-dimensional images of your body during the procedure.
Robotic surgery differs from open or laparoscopic surgeries in that it involves smaller incisions and less muscle damage, expediting recovery time. Furthermore, its precise robotic arms allow patients to be back home faster as well. If one of its instruments becomes stuck during navigation, however, burns or other injuries could ensue – therefore it is crucial that any surgeon be experienced using robotic surgical devices and has received training in robotic procedures.
Minimally Invasive Surgery for Herniated Discs
Spinal discs are elastic rings filled with soft material that separate and cushion vertebrae of the spine (vertebrae). When herniated discs occur, they can press against nerves that run along the spinal cord causing back pain as well as numbness or weakness in arms or legs. Surgery to extract herniated portions of disc and treat any bone or ligament that might be compressing nerves is typically prescribed; this procedure is known as microdiscectomy and it can often be done through minimally invasive techniques.
For minimally invasive spine surgery, the patient is given light sedation before being placed on an operating table. After which, their physician uses a small tool to numb their skin around the surgical site so that the procedure will go as smoothly as possible. Next, fluoroscopic X-rays guide a spinal needle fitted with a metal dilator into position above their painful spine disc before finally being removed with an incision in their spine being made by surgeon.
Once a surgeon gains access to the spine, they use a tubular retractor to create a tunnel down towards it and view herniated discs using an endoscope before extracting them using small forceps and other tools. After removal of herniated portions of discs has taken place, tube retractor is removed and incision closed with skin glue.
Herniated spinal discs can lead to serious compression of spinal nerves in the lumbar region of the spine, resulting in back or radiating leg pain known as spinal stenosis. Herniated discs often develop due to degenerated or ruptured intervertebral discs losing elasticity over time and bulging outward, compressing spinal nerves passing through vertebral canal. This condition is known as hernia syndrome.
Herniated discs can often be treated through minimally invasive laminectomy and foraminotomy, a minimally invasive surgical process which removes bony or ligamentous tissues that compress spinal nerves through an MIS approach using tubular dilators, microscope or endoscope – making this one of the most frequently utilized surgeries to address herniated spinal discs and spinal stenosis.
Minimally Invasive Surgery for Lung Cancer
Robotic surgery for lung cancer and other thoracic procedures allows surgeons to access the lungs and chest through smaller incisions, which reduces damage to nearby ligaments and tissues while helping keep blood loss down and speeding healing compared to traditional open surgery procedures.
Surgical robots feature interactive arms that mimic the movements of your surgeon’s hands. Your doctor inserts these arms through thin tubes placed through small cuts in your body (similar to laparoscopic surgery) into ports (thin tubes with thin tubes attached), similar to laparoscopic surgery. An endoscope attached with a camera transmits real-time images from your surgical site directly back to their console a few feet away.
Your surgeon then uses the console to control the arms of the robot and view its surgical site with high definition clarity, enabling complex thoracic operations without large incisions – including lobectomy (in which part of a lung is removed); wedge resection (where wedge-shaped portions of lung are taken out); video-assisted thoracic surgery (VATS), which removes or biopsies pulmonary nodules.
Robotic surgery has also become increasingly common for gynecologic procedures, including hysterectomy and sleeve gastrectomy to address conditions like uterine fibroids, pelvic organ prolapse and other issues. Robot-assisted prostatectomy has proven an invaluable method for treating prostate and bladder disorders through robotic-assisted surgery procedures such as prostatectomy.
As with any surgery procedure, robotic surgery carries some inherent risks that must be discussed with your healthcare provider to determine if this procedure is right for you.
At MedStar Health, our highly-experienced thoracic surgeons have performed many robotic surgeries over time and are well-versed in all aspects of this advanced technique. On your initial visit, we can help determine whether minimally invasive surgery using da Vinci Xi surgical system would be suitable for you.
Robotic surgery patients tend to stay one or two nights in hospital and recover more rapidly than those undergoing conventional surgery, though recovery times will depend on your procedure and may take up to several weeks.
Minimally Invasive Surgery for Heart Disease
If you suffer from chronic heart disease, your physician may suggest robotic surgery as a minimally invasive solution. Involving the use of long, thin tools with cameras through small incisions in the chest and between ribs in order to treat your condition, surgeons control this robot using a console which displays HD, 3D images of your heart; this allows more intricate procedures than can be accomplished through traditional laparoscopic methods.
Robotic arms can move more precisely than human hands, as well as rotate instruments in tight spaces without strain on human muscles. Furthermore, this system improves visualization beyond what could be achieved with an ordinary endoscope.
At this stage, you will be sedated under general anesthesia to eliminate any feeling of discomfort. Your surgeon will make a small incision in either your abdomen or pelvis through which instruments enter your body.
As your doctor nears their target site, a robotic camera transmits real-time images directly to a console containing real-time surgical guidance information that your surgeon will use during surgery.
Our thoracic surgeons are among the most highly-experienced in the region when it comes to robotic-assisted surgery. Specially trained for use of this technology, each patient is carefully assessed for suitability before being made an offer of robotic-assisted procedures if appropriate.
As an example, laparoscopic techniques are usually preferred over robot-assisted surgery for low-risk procedures like gallbladder removal.
As with laparoscopic procedures, robotic surgery recovery should be similar. You should be able to walk and resume normal activities within 24 hours; however, your physician may advise against engaging in strenuous activities until after recovery has taken place.
Robot-assisted surgery has become more prevalent across hospitals, yet may not be suitable for all procedures or patients. Discuss with your physician the potential advantages and risks associated with robotic surgery as well as your other available options including open surgery or laparoscopic methods.