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Article Type: Blog

The da Vinci Surgical Robot: A Surgeon’s Tool for Ultimate Precision

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You’ve likely heard of robotic surgery, but have you ever seen a robot stitch a grape back together

The same technology that the da Vinci Si surgical system uses to suture a single berry empowers surgeons to do intricate operations on vital organs with unprecedented precision.

A Mechanical Marvel in Your Surgeon’s Capable Hands

Although it’s a robot, the da Vinci Si surgical system is anything but stiff and clunky. Guided by a surgeon’s capable hands, this highly advanced technology offers surgeons greater precision and a broader range of movement in minimally invasive surgery. 

Francisco Couto, MD, a general surgeon at AdventHealth East Orlando, has advanced training in laparoscopic and robotic surgery and knows just how vital the da Vinci is in the operating room. 

Dr. Couto’s surgical team recently acquired a da Vinci Si surgical system, and we spoke with him to understand how this robot is revolutionizing surgery — both for surgeons and their patients.

How the da Vinci Is Instrumental in Surgery

Hearing the term robotic surgery, it might be easy to imagine a robot performing surgery on its own, but that’s not how it works. Robotic systems like the da Vinci are instruments in your surgeon’s capable hands. 

The surgeon is in control from start to finish, guiding the mechanical hands — and wrists — of the da Vinci robot throughout the entire procedure. The da Vinci mimics every movement of a surgeon’s hands inside the body to complete surgeries with greater precision and steadiness. 

“The da Vinci is an instrument that gives us full articulation of the arms of the robot inside the body through small incisions,” Dr. Couto explains. “With the da Vinci, we can perform operations similar to open surgeries, but through a minimally invasive technique,” he says.

Dr. Couto has used da Vinci robots in performing general surgeries and hernia repairs, but the da Vinci isn’t limited to general surgery procedures. 

“Using the da Vinci, hepatobiliary surgeons can operate on the liver and pancreas, urologists can use it for prostate, bladder and kidney surgeries, and thoracic surgeons are now starting to use it for the heart, too,” he says. “You can do almost any procedure with it, depending on the specialty and the expertise of the surgeon,” he explains.  

For Surgeons, the da Vinci Offers Greater Precision and Dexterity

Robotic surgery has been an option for surgeons for about 20 years, and the da Vinci surgical systems were the first in the market, says Dr. Couto. However, the robots are much more sophisticated now than they were 20 years ago, and the da Vinci is now a viable alternative to open surgery and laparoscopic procedures, in many cases. 

“With the da Vinci, we can do major surgeries through small incisions, when before, our only option would have been to do open surgery because laparoscopic wasn’t appropriate for the scope of the surgery.”

Dr. Couto explains that using the da Vinci is like operating an instrument that boosts his surgical capabilities exponentially. “With the da Vinci, I can mimic the way my wrists and hands move inside the abdomen, using the robot. I can’t do that laparoscopically,” he says. 

“For surgeons, the way we work with the da Vinci gives us access to small areas with the same range of motion as our hands. We have a greater degree of precision in small spaces made with tiny incisions.” 

“Whatever movement I make with my hands, that’s what the da Vinci does with the instruments,” Dr. Couto says. “For suturing, for example, it’s like using my hands, but with a greater range of motion in my wrists,” he explains. 

Surgeons like Couto benefit from using the da Vinci as their partner in surgery for many reasons, including that the robot:

  • Gives surgeons unprecedented control in a minimally invasive environment
  • Gives surgeons a better physical position to operate in
  • Has mechanical wrists that have a 270-degree range of motion
  • Has adjustable tips on the ends of the arms
  • Has 3D visualization capabilities, in addition to a monitor
  • Minimizes surgeon fatigue

The bottom line, Dr. Couto affirms, is that the da Vinci is quite literally revolutionizing surgery. Dr. Couto says, “Using this robot is becoming more of a standard of care for surgery,” he explains.

For Patients, da Vinci Can Mean a Faster Recovery

The da Vinci may be a marvel for surgeons to use, but it’s the patients who benefit the most from surgery with the da Vinci. 

“Doing surgery with the da Vinci translates to less time spent in the hospital and decreased post-operative pain for the majority of our patients,” Dr. Couto says.

In addition to these two major benefits, Dr. Couto says that, for patients, surgery with the da Vinci can also mean:

  • A faster recovery
  • Less trauma to the body
  • Minimal scarring, compared to open surgery    
  • Same-day discharge, in some cases
  • Small incision sites

“For patients, we’re cutting the length of their hospital stay in half because they don’t have that much pain after surgery, and they are going back to their everyday activities faster than they normally would,” Dr. Couto says.

Trusted Surgeons That Put You First

At AdventHealth, our surgeons are here to help fix what hurts so you can feel whole in as many ways as possible. Your multidisciplinary team is here for you before, during and after your surgery and will help get you back to whole health as quickly as possible. 

Learn more about our general surgery services at AdventHealth East Orlando or request an appointment today.

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