Q: What is robotic surgery?
A: Robotic surgery is a type of minimally invasive surgery, which means that instead of operating on patients through large incisions, we use small instruments that fit through very small incisions (about the size of a nickel). These mini-instruments are mounted on three robotic arms, which are fully under the control of a surgeon at all times. There is also a camera placed into the surgical field that allows the surgeon to visualize a magnified, 3D view of the organs he or she is working on. The surgeon controls these instruments and camera from a console which is in the same operating room as the patient.
Q: Why is robotic surgery better?
A: Ultimately, robotic surgery offers several benefits for both the surgeon and the patient. For the surgeon, the robot gives exceptional control and visualization in a minimally invasive environment, while reducing surgeon fatigue. For our patients, there is less trauma on the body, minimal scarring, less blood loss and faster recovery time compared to traditional open surgery. As Dr. Ghosh, Medical Director of Robotic Surgery at Hunterdon Medical Center puts it: “Robotic surgery is elegant, artful and precise. It is as though my ‘mini-me’ is inside performing the surgery with unsurpassed visualization, ultimate precision, and at a scale that makes sense.”
Q: What types of surgeries can be performed using the da Vinci® Si Robot System?
A: Classically, we use the robot to perform surgeries in the intra-abdominal space (abdominal cavity) or in the thoracic space (chest cavity), but applications continue to grow. The Robot System doesn’t really change the types of surgeries we do, but it allows the surgeon to do it with better visualization, more precision and less scarring. Arguably, the robot also helps the surgeon push the frontier for challenging and complex cases, and makes them more possible. Here at Hunterdon Medical Center, we are currently offering surgeries in Gynecology, Bariatrics (weight loss surgery) and Urology, which includes kidney and prostate surgery. We will soon be offering single site surgery (surgery done entirely through the belly-button) for cholecystectomy (gallbladder removal) and benign hysterectomy (uterus removal indicated if not related to cancer).
Q: Is da Vinci® surgery right for me?
A: Talk to your doctor about if robotic surgery is right for you. Advantages of using the robot include less pain, less blood loss and shorter recovery. However, some circumstances may not make you an ideal candidate, and you and your surgeon should discuss the potential risks and benefits to this surgical method in those scenarios.
Q: Is da Vinci® surgery safe?
A: Generally speaking, any surgery is as safe as your surgeon’s experience and your body habitus (physique) allows. Mechanical equipment failures are extraordinarily rare, and remember that there is an extremely well-equipped, experienced team of caregivers and experts in the room with you at all times. We at Hunterdon Healthcare have taken every precaution to ensure the safety and comfort of our patients undergoing robotic procedures.
Q: Is the robot performing the procedure?
A: Absolutely not. The surgeon is performing the procedure, and the robot is an extension of the surgeon. The robot does not make a single move on its own without the explicit control of the surgeon, and is designed to help facilitate and stabilize the surgeon’s motions through small incisions, all while offering superior 3D magnified visualization.
Q: What recovery time should I expect?
A: Recovery times vary greatly depending on your procedure. Your Hunterdon Healthcare physician can discuss recovery times based on your particular surgery, medical history, comorbidities and special circumstances. Generally speaking, recovery times in minimally invasive surgeries are far shorter than in open cases.
Q: Is da Vinci® surgery covered by insurance?
A: Your healthcare provider and administrators will help you determine if your particular surgery is covered by insurance. This depends largely on the problem at hand, the indication for surgery and the details of your coverage. We invite you to explore your options, and we at Hunterdon Healthcare will do our best to meet your needs.
Weil R. Lai, MDUrologist
Kelly A. Frys, DOObstetrician-Gynecologist
Naveen Ballem, MDSurgeon
Seth M. Rubin, MDObstetrician-Gynecologist
Harvey C. Rainville, MDSurgeon
Jeffrey H. Chen, MDGeneral Surgeon
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