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Cancer Treatment Centers of America

Robotic surgery (da Vinci® Surgical System)

What is the da Vinci® Surgical System?

This video describes how the da Vinci® surgical system works, using prostate cancer surgery as an example. The da Vinci system also may be used in surgeries for gynecologic, stomach, pancreas, liver and colon cancers.

The da Vinci® Surgical System offers a minimally invasive alternative to both open surgery and laparoscopy. Because it requires only a few tiny incisions and offers greater vision, precision and control for the surgeon, patients can often recover sooner, move on to additional treatments if needed, and get back to daily life quicker. 

Potential benefits of the da Vinci system for patients include:

  • Reduced pain
  • Lower risk of infection or complications
  • Less blood loss (fewer transfusions)
  • Shorter hospital stays
  • Less scarring due to smaller incisions
  • Faster return to normal activities (e.g., sexual function, urinary continence)

Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA) surgeons who perform robotic surgeries are highly trained and able to perform minimally invasive robotic surgeries for prostate, gynecologic (ovarian, cervical, uterine and vulvar), stomach, pancreas, liver and colon cancers.

How it works

With the da Vinci System’s ergonomic design, the surgeon is able to operate from a comfortable, seated position at a console, with eyes and hands in line with the instruments, and a magnified, high-definition 3D view of the target anatomy. Some potential advantages include:

  • Greater surgical precision
  • Increased range of motion
  • Improved dexterity
  • Enhanced visualization, including areas that may not be seen by the naked eye
  • Improved access to hard-to-reach areas
  • Improved ability to spare healthy tissue not impacted by cancer

“Our number one goal is to treat the cancer, while also helping our patients have smoother recoveries and better quality of life. Through the da Vinci Surgical System, we are able to offer another surgical option to treat cancer—an option designed to result in less scarring and pain while also helping patients return to their daily activities more quickly,” says Dr. Hatem Halabi, Surgical Oncologist at CTCA® at Midwestern Regional Medical Center (Midwestern) in Zion, Illinois. “Because we only treat cancer at CTCA, we are trained and highly experienced in performing a number of robotic cancer surgeries on a regular basis.”

First, the surgeon makes a few tiny incisions to introduce miniaturized instruments and a high-definition camera inside the patient. The camera allows the surgeon to view a highly magnified, high-resolution 3D image of the surgical site.

Seated comfortably at an ergonomically-designed console, with eyes and hands in line with the instruments, the surgeon uses controls below the viewer to move the instrument arms and camera. The system then translates, in real time, the surgeon’s hand, wrist and finger movements into precise movements of the instruments inside the patient.

Throughout the procedure, the surgeon controls every surgical maneuver. The System cannot be programmed or act in any way without the surgeon’s input.