Robotic Surgery FAQs

Christopher You Bariatric Surgeon da Vinci
Christopher You, MD, Bariatric Surgeon with the da Vinci® Surgical Robot

Q. Who does the surgery - the surgeon or the robot?

A.  This is one of the most frequently asked questions we hear! Your surgeon fully controls the entire procedure - NOT the robotic technology. The technology is a tool and does not replace the role of your surgeon during your procedure.

Q. Is robotic surgery a "minimally invasive" procedure?

A. Yes, robotic surgery is a type of minimally invasive surgery. A minimally invasive surgery uses small incisions rather than large ones, or uses existing entryways into the body.

Laparoscopic surgery and robotic surgery are both "minimally invasive." Generally, minimally invasive procedures cause less pain and result in a faster recovery.

Q. How is robotic surgery different from more traditional minimally invasive surgical approaches available for patients?

A. During a standard laparoscopic procedure, your surgeon stands next to the operating room bed and utilizes hand-held instruments to perform your procedure. This requires a series of small incisions. Using robotic technology, instead, your surgeon is seated at a console, using their own hands to maneuver the arms and instruments of the da Vinci system. Again, this requires just a few small incisions. From that console, your surgeon has 3D vision and the ability to rotate his or hands in angles and to degrees that would otherwise be impossible to achieve.

Q. What are the key patient benefits associated with undergoing surgery robotically?

A.  Robotic surgery is safer and typically results in a number of key benefits for patients, including:

  • less blood loss
  • less pain after surgery
  • shorter hospital stay
  • quicker recovery
  • quicker return to work and normal life activities

Q. How long has the da Vinci system been around?

A. This technology was approved for use in the U.S. by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2000.

Q. How many surgeries have been performed robotically at MedStar Franklin Square?

A. MedStar Franklin Square houses two da Vinci robotic surgical systems in our operating room suites. In total, since investing in the technology in 2009, our surgeons have performed more than 4,000 robotic procedures.

Q. What is the difference between a robotic surgery and a laparoscopic surgery?

A. Both robotic and laparoscopic surgeries are minimally invasive. This means your surgeon makes tiny incisions rather than large ones, or uses an existing entryway into the body. A robotic surgery has greater flexibility because the robot has greater range of motion than your surgeon's hand.

Q. Does the da Vinci operate by itself?

A. The da Vinci system cannot "think" on its own. It only responds to your surgeon's precise hand and finger movements. Your surgeon is in the operating room, directing the procedure the entire time.

Q. How does the surgeon see what he or she is doing?

A. There is a camera inside your body, which sends real-time images to your surgeon, seated at a console. In fact, the images your surgeon sees using da Vinci are more highly magnified, with a sharper resolution, then what he or she would see standing over you.

Q. Can any doctor use a da Vinci?

A. A surgeon cannot simply walk into an operating room and start using a robotic surgical system without proper training. However, any doctor can be successfully trained in the da Vinci Surgical System.

Q. Is robotic surgery available for any surgical procedure?

A. Robotic surgery is available for many but not all surgical procedures. Sometimes, even if a robotic option is available, it might not be the best approach for you.

Q. Are there operations where traditional open surgery is still best?

A. In general, cardiac surgery is still performed using traditional open surgery. Cardiac surgeons need a clear view of the operating field and need to be able to move the instruments around tight spaces and curves. Most cardiac surgeons prefer a hands-on approach when performing heart surgery. Surgeons are experimenting with minimally invasive techniques, but for now, the open approach leads to the most successful outcomes.

Q. How did the da Vinci Surgical System get its name?

A. For many, "da Vinci" conjures up the famous Mona Lisa, or perhaps a bestselling novel. However, Leonardo da Vinci is also credited with inventing the very first robot. In addition, he was well known for his intricate, anatomically correct drawings of the human body. Similarly, the da Vinci Surgical System provides surgeons with an intricate, precise view of the human body during the operation.

Learn more about robotic surgery at MedStar Franklin Square:

Location Information

For a physician referral, please call 443-777-7900.

MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center
9000 Franklin Square Drive
Baltimore, MD 21237

Learn More

Related Services