What is robotic surgery?

When we think of robots, we tend to think of something human-looking, with a head and body, arms and legs. We also tend to think of a machine that operates independently.

The daVinci robot is all arms – and every move they make is controlled by a trained, experienced surgeon.

Surgeons at Work on the DaVinci Robotic System
The Robotic Surgery Team
Robotic Advantages in the Operating Room

Surgeons at Work on the DaVinci Robotic System

The robotic arms of the daVinci system are attached to a base unit at one end. On the other end of these robotic arms, various tools can be attached, including:

  • Endoscopic cameras for viewing inside the body
  • Sharp, scissor-like instruments for cutting
  • Sophisticated sewing tools that look something like tiny pliers
  • Laser tools and miniature scalpels

All of these tools fit through tiny incisions made in a patient's body, and the robot’s base is wired to the surgeon's nearby computer console.

Once a patient is fully prepped in the operating room – with small incisions made, and robotic instruments in place, the surgeon moves to the console.

At the console:

  • The surgeon's hands move the controllers, which manipulate the instruments inside the patient’s body
  • The instruments are "wristed" and have a greater range of motion than the human wrist
  • The surgeon makes a precise cutting or sewing motion at the console
  • The computer software translates these movements to allow the instruments to do exactly the same thing inside the patient's body – without any potential hand tremor

This approach means our surgeons can perform delicate, complex operations without the trauma of large incisions – a tremendous benefit for our patients.

The Robotic Surgery Team

During surgery, an anesthesiologist remains near the patient’s head at all times. Also surrounding the patient are a surgical assistant and surgical nurses. Everyone on our robotic surgery teams is specially trained and highly experienced.

After surgery, patients are cared for in the recovery room and by inpatient nurses who are also very experienced at caring for patients who had robotic surgery.

Robotic Advantages in the Operating Room

Ask an experienced surgeon to list the advantages of robotic surgery. In addition to the flexibility of the instruments, they always mention: the ability to see the surgical site so clearly.

That's because:

  • The endoscopic camera has two "stereoscopic" lenses that allow the surgeon to see in 3-D through the viewfinder on the console
  • The surgeon controls the camera and can move it to get the best view
  • Everything is magnified, and the amount of magnification is controlled by the surgeon

Swedish is a regional center for performing – and teaching – robotic surgery. More than 4,000 robotic procedures have been performed here, more than at any other medical facility in the Northwest.