Laparoscopic and robotic surgery: Get To Know the Differences

Mostly, patients have to choose between two minimally invasive surgical procedures when seeking prostate cancer treatment: laparoscopic and robotic surgeries. Read on to understand the primary differences between the two procedures.

Laparoscopic surgery

The traditional open surgeries require the surgeon to make a single large incision to perform the surgery. However, the laparoscopic surgeries require the surgeon to make small incisions for the equipment insertion - including a video camera - to conduct the procedure. The surgeon watches video images displayed on a screen while moving the equipment and performing the surgery.

The primary benefits of laparoscopic surgery relate to the small incisions. The patient loses less blood, experiences less pain and gets less noticeable scars. In addition, there are some economic benefits related to this form of surgery. For example, the patient stays at the hospital for a shorter period which means fewer medical costs. Furthermore, quicker recovery means that the patient will get back to work sooner.

However, laparoscopic surgeries have some limitations. The images are two-dimensional and the equipment used has limited range of movement.

Robotic surgery

Laparoscopy involves use of various incisions to do a surgical procedure rather than using large incisions. Robotic surgery is a form of laparoscopic surgery although it uses advanced technology. Just like the other laparoscopic procedures, a surgeon starts by making a button-like incision in abdominal cavity to allow a telescope incision. After abdominal cavity expansion with use of carbon dioxide gas, the surgeon makes another three small incisions to allow insertion of narrow tubes necessary for interchangeable instruments.

The surgeon’s hands do not directly move the instruments. Instead, the surgeon wheels a robotic device up to the patient. They then attach the robotic arms to the instruments and the telescope. The surgeon then sits at a control console, some distance from the patient, leaving the scrub nurse and surgical assistant at the side of the patient. The surgeon also places one or two additional tubes for use by the surgical assistant.

The surgeon views a magnified three-dimensional image of the patient’s interior organs. The surgeon precisely performs the movements of the robotic instruments and the camera in real time with use of ergonomic finger controls. The instrument’s tips allow any wrist-like turn that the surgeon may want. The instruments they use to perform the surgery include scissors of similar size to fingernails – even though the scissors appears to be almost the size of hedge clippers when the surgeon is observing them through the video. They also use miniature tweezers.

What are the advantages of robotic?

  •  Quick recovery: Just like the other laparoscopic procedures, robotic procedure allows quicker recovery and moreover, less post-operative pain contrary to the open incision surgery.
  • True 3D view: A thin telescope inserted into the patient’s body contains two lenses. In addition, there is a camera to serve each lens. The surgeon views a different image at the control console with each lens giving him a real 3D image. This facilitates smoother movement of the instruments and subtle tissue characteristics’ appreciation.
  • Increased surgeon control: In laparoscopic surgery, a surgeon uses each hand to control an instrument or the camera – a total of only two items. However, with the robotic surgery, a surgeon is able to control a total of three items.
  •  Movement scaling: The robotic instruments proportionately move for smaller distances inside the body than the hand control moves at the control console. The added precision is useful with the magnified view.


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