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Dr. Praveen Kammar


Surgical Oncologist

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Robotic Cancer Surgery | 16 May 2022, Monday

Robotic Cancer Surgery: All You Need To Know

Robotic surgery is a widely used surgery and advanced form of minimally invasive surgery.

In this type of surgery, a surgeon uses a robot that to perform surgical procedures.

Robotic surgery for cancer patients is very effective as it helps in performing complex cancer surgeries with precision, especially in narrow areas like pelvis when compared to traditional surgery.

Robotic surgery does not mean a robot performs the surgery. The surgeon uses the robot to maneuver the surgical instruments to perform the surgery, something similar to driving a car.

In the past couple of years, robotic surgery procedures have increased from 1.8% to 15.1%. Robotic devices have a greater range of motion than traditional laparoscopic or minimally invasive surgery.

This surgery is widely used and efficient in cancer treatment because it is associated with less pain, less blood loss, shorter hospital stays, and shorter recovery times.

How Robotic surgery works?

To perform a robotic surgery, the surgeon makes tiny incisions ( similar to laparoscopic surgery) in your body and inserts long slender miniaturized instruments and a high-definition three-dimensional camera.

This camera gives a magnified 3d vision of the operative field . The instruments used in robotic system have 7 degrees of motion and hence mimic a human hand. This improves the range of motion, access and precision.

All these instruments are then connected to the robotic arms ( we usually call it as patient cart). The robot is in turn connected to a console via a computer system. This console has a 3d monitor to visualize what the 3d camera is seeing inside the body. It also has hand and foot controls using which the surgeon can maneuver the instruments and camera attached to the robot.

The robot translates the surgeon’s hand movements to precise motion of surgical instruments inside the patient’s body. It also removes tremors and can scale down the amplitude of motion.

The entire control is in the surgeon’s hand, and the surgical system responds based on the surgeon’s directions.

There is also a surgical assistant near the patient who supervises the function of the surgical instruments and confirms the correct placement and motions of the instruments inside the body.

Based on his feedback the surgeon makes necessary changes.

Types of Robotic surgery

There are several types of robotic surgery systems avaialble now. All use similar kind of technology. 3D vision , precision, higher range of motion are achieved in all these platforms.

1. Da Vinci surgical system :

One of the oldest and most established platform. Here the surgical instruments are attached to the arms of a single robot. This means the robot has to be positioned in the precise ergonomic manner to avoid arms clashing during surgery. The surgeon console gives a 3d vision to the surgeon.

2. Versius Surgical Robotic system:

In this system, each robotic arm is independent and directly connected to a surgeon console. This avoids robotic arms clashing with one another during surgery. The surgeon has to wear special glasses to have a 3D vision since it has an open console.

3. Hugo Ras system by Medtronic :

This system is similar to the Versius system with an open console and independent arms, thus giving more flexibility to the surgical team.

Which cancers can be treated with Robotic Surgery?

Several cancers can be treated efficiently through this surgery, and the patients get outstanding recovery results. Around 2.8% of hospitals worldwide initiate cancer treatment by robotic surgery. We can treat the following cancers with this surgery.

  • Colon and Rectal cancer
  • Endometrial and cervical cancer
  • Oesophagal and Stomach cancer
  • Early-stage pancreatic cancer
  • Kidney, bladder, and prostate cancer
  • Throat cancer, Tongue cancer, and Tonsil cancer through Transoral Robotic surgery

Probable side effects of Robotic Surgery

The side effects of robotic surgery are directly related to the organ or area being operated upon.

For e.g. the complication of surgery for a kidney tumour would be different from a stomach cancer surgery.

You have to discuss with your operating surgeon about the side effects and complications before surgery.

Robotic surgery is an electronic system and hence it is also prone to device and instrument malfunction including the robotic arms and video monitors. However, the robotic system undergoes extensive safety testing and chances of malfunction are unusual.

There are some specific side effects of robotic surgery that are unique. In Robotic surgery patients may be in extreme body position to facilitate surgery. This may cause pressure on the nerves at the neck, knee, hip or pelvis. Hence immense care is taken to avoid this complication.

Risk of complications also depends on the experience of the surgeon and the number of cases performed in the concerned centre. Centres which are high volume, where robotic surgery is performed regularly by experienced surgeons usually have low complication rates.

Benefits of Robotic Cancer Surgery:

In Robotic surgery, a surgeon operates through small incisions. This is a widely used surgery system as it provides consistent, reliable results with decreased blood loss, pain, and fewer recovery times than more traditional surgical methods.

In this procedure, surgeons can operate on hard-to-reach areas of the body.

  • It is minimally invasive: In this surgery, surgeons do not use their hands directly; the robotic arms also filter out tremors.
  • Quick recovery: Your body will take less time for recovery as it is minimally invasive. However, the recovery time depends on the particular circumstances; most people can resume normal activities, including working, within a short time after robotic-assisted surgery. It is cost-effective as a short recovery helps to get back to normal more quickly.
  • Less pain and blood loss: Smaller incision results in less pain during and after surgery. You don’t have to take a lot of painkillers during recovery. In this surgery, blood loss is minimal, and you can avoid the need for blood transfusions. There is no blood loss com[plication during the time of recovery.
  • Fewer chances of infections: Infections can delay your recovery, but this surgical procedure has fewer chances of infections due to smaller incisions during the surgery. It reduces the risk of infections and decreases the complications of infections.
  • No scars: Since robotic surgery uses very small incisions, the healing is excellent and scars are virtually invisible.

Cost of Robotic Surgery :

Robotic surgical systems are the latest in technology and hence investment heavy. The instruments used in robotics are also costly. Hence the cost of a robotic surgery may be higher than laparoscopic or open surgery. The cost may also vary from hospital to hospital. However, dor the right patient, the advantages of robotic surgery may justify the cost.


Robotic surgery is one of the advanced technologies which can be used in cancer surgery and provides several advantages to the patients. Whenever this facility is available it should be considered in the options. Please talk to your doctor to understand if you are the right candidate for a robotic surgery.




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