Having any type of surgery is a little scary. You worry about scarring and how long it takes 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 robot-assisted surgery, this type of minimally invasive procedure uses tiny surgical instruments and a high-definition 3D 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 you where he or she controls the surgical instruments. With robotic surgery, the surgeon is able to do more precise movements. 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 robotic surgery with the da Vinci Surgical System at 8 hospitals. A newer robotic device, the Flex® Robotic System, was recently approved for head and neck transoral surgery (TORS) and is utilized at UPMC Presbyterian. UPMC is the first institution to offer the Flex Robotic System.

Benefits of Robotic Surgery

The goal of robotic 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 robot-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 a faster recovery time, less time spent in the hospital, and fewer complications .

Robotic Surgery Risks

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 robotic 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.