doctor consult urology

Using minimally invasive robotic surgery to treat urological conditions has rapidly grown as an option for many patients. Previously, most surgeries for urology were performed as open surgeries, which make large incisions. Robotic surgery reduces pain and recovery time for many patients.

What Are Urological Conditions and Diseases?

Urological conditions are those that affect the male reproductive organs or problems with the male or female urinary tract. This can include problems in the:

  • Kidney
  • Bladder
  • Prostate
  • Urethra

For certain cancers, kidney disorders, or urinary tract obstructions, surgery may be the only option to cure or find relief from symptoms.

What Is Robotic Surgery?

Robotic surgery, or robot-assisted surgery, is performed by a skilled surgeon using the da Vinci® Surgical System to assist with complex surgeries. Using the system, the surgeon makes small cuts and inserts tiny surgical instruments and a camera. The surgeon sits at a console with a 3-D screen and operates the instruments.

The surgeon is in control of the operation at all times. The da Vinci system helps perform sensitive operations like prostatectomy, where the surgeon has to work in a very small space while protecting the surrounding nerves.

Robotic surgery advantages and benefits

Advantages of robotic surgery include:

  • Smaller incisions and less scarring
  • Less blood loss
  • Shorter hospital stay
  • More precision and control by the surgeon

>> Learn more about the benefits of robotic surgery.

Types of Robotic Urological Surgery

Robotic surgery is offered as an option for almost every major urological surgery done at UPMC. Some patients with larger tumors or previous surgery may not be good candidates.


A radical prostatectomy is a common surgery to treat prostate cancer. The surgery uses small incisions in the belly to remove the prostate gland and surrounding tissue. The bladder is carefully reattached to the urethra and the nerves for erections are spared.

A simple prostatectomy is used when the prostate is not cancerous but instead is very enlarged. The inner or blocking part of the prostate can be removed, opening the channel for urination.

Partial nephrectomy

This surgery is performed to treat kidney cancer. Also called kidney-sparing surgery, this procedure removes the diseased part of the kidney only, while leaving the rest of the kidney intact. This leaves the patient with better kidney function and less chance of needing dialysis than had the whole organ been removed


This procedure for bladder cancer can be done as a partial or radical cystectomy. A partial cystectomy removes only the cancerous part of the bladder. More commonly, a radical cystectomy removes the bladder, nearby lymph nodes, part of the urethra, and any other nearby organs where the cancer has spread.

Pyeloplasty (urinary reconstruction surgery)

This procedure is used to remove a urinary blockage between the kidney and the ureter tube, which drains toward the bladder. The surgeon removes the blockage and then reattaches the kidney to the healthy part of the ureter.

Robotic surgery risks

Robotic surgery has risks similar to any other surgery. All surgery carries risk of infection, bleeding, and other complications. With robotic surgery, there’s a chance the surgeon may need to change to an open procedure, but this is uncommon.

UPMC surgeons receive extensive training on the da Vinci Surgical System and are prepared to handle any possible complications. Talk to your doctor about whether this type of surgery may be the best option for you.

For more information on robot-assisted surgery, visit the UPMC Robotic Surgery website.