robotic surgery

Having any type of surgery can be scary. You may worry about scarring or how long it will take to recover. Depending on your condition, your doctor may have talked to you about robotic surgery. It may sound like something from a sci-fi movie, but it’s actually a major advance in surgical care.

What Is Robotic Surgery?

Also called robotic-assisted surgery, this type of minimally invasive procedure uses tiny surgical instruments and a high-definition three-dimensional camera. Rather than make a large cut to perform surgery, your doctor makes small cuts and inserts the camera and tools.

The surgeon then sits at a console near the operating table where they control the surgical instruments. Using the device, the surgeon is able to perform precise movements in a small space. The surgeon has complete control over every movement the entire time.

The da Vinci® Surgical System is FDA-approved for a range of surgical specialties, including cancer surgery. UPMC offers the da Vinci Surgical System at 12 UPMC hospitals.

In addition, UPMC became the first institution to offer the Flex® Robotic System. It is approved for head and neck transoral surgery (TORS) and is used at the UPMC Center for Robotic Head and Neck Surgery.


The goal of robotic-assisted surgery is to provide less invasive surgery with greater precision and the potential for fewer complications and a faster recovery.

Previously, many surgeries required large incisions so the surgeon had enough room to work. By using robotic technology and tiny instruments, the surgeon has a greater range of motion without the need to make large incisions.

One of the main benefits of robotic-assisted surgery is you have much smaller cuts leaving you with:

  • Less scarring.
  • Less pain.
  • Less blood loss during surgery.

You’re also more likely to have recover faster, spend less time in the hospital, and have fewer complications .


Like any surgery, robotic-assisted surgery has potential risks.

There’s always a chance that you will need open surgery (a large incision) to complete the procedure. Pain, infection, blood clots, and other risks are the same with this type of surgery as with any other type of surgery.

UPMC has highly skilled physicians with extensive training using the da Vinci Surgical System. We offer robotic surgery for a range of specialties from bariatrics to cancer care to heart surgery.

Editor's Note: This gallery was originally published on , and was last reviewed on .