The days of surgeons performing traditional open surgeries making large incisions cutting through skin and muscle are numbered. Today, more hospitals are offering a different option patients are asking for – robotic surgery. Research has found robotic surgery has numerous benefits, including more precision and helping to minimize invasive cuts that promote quicker healing.
A recent study of British researchers from the University College London and the University of Sheffield in England found that robot-assisted bladder cancer surgery patients had quicker recoveries than traditional surgeries. In addition, robotic surgeries help to reduce readmission to the hospital by 52 percent and reduce the possibility of blood clots by 77 percent over traditional surgeries.
Traditional surgery for major operations has always been considered the “gold standard” for treating patients for various health conditions. Now, this norm is being challenged by robotic surgery. As a result, robotic surgery has steadily gained favor with both surgeons and patients. Some say robotics is the future of surgery.
This new study reviewed 338 patients who had non-metastatic bladder cancer in nine hospitals in the United Kingdom. The group was divided in half, with 169 patients having robotic-assisted cystectomy (bladder removal) and 169 patients having open radical cystectomy.
Results found that for patients who had robotic-assisted cystectomy, the average hospital stay was eight days compared to 10 days for open radical surgery patients. In addition, patients using the robotic-assisted surgery had a readmission rate to the hospital of 21 percent compared to 32 percent for patients in the open surgery group.
What patients need to know about robotic surgery
If robotic surgery sounds like something from a science fiction movie, that’s far from true. A real person is still behind the controls during the surgery. And now, medical schools are offering more residency and fellowship programs to train new physicians on using robotics for complex cases.
Some patients may wonder what’s the difference between laparoscopic surgery and robotic surgery? Are they the same thing? The answer is no. Laparoscopic and robotic-assisted surgeries are different. Laparoscopic surgery was introduced in 1990, and more recently, robotic-assisted surgery. Over the years, laparoscopic surgery has become mainstream, and robotic-assisted surgery is now gaining ground in patient acceptance. Both surgical alternatives have been used abundantly for urological conditions like prostate cancer, with excellent results. However, robotic-assisted surgery is considered superior to laparoscopic surgery because of enhanced improvements in the visibility of the surgical area and better manipulation using the tools necessary.
Both robotic and laparoscopic surgery have similarities – both are considered minimally invasive procedures that make much smaller incisions that reduce infections and recovery time compared to traditional open surgery. In addition, both robotic and laparoscopic surgery uses a camera and surgical instruments to perform the surgery. But, a significant difference between the two surgeries is laparoscopic surgeons hold surgical instruments in their hands as they work. In contrast, a robotic surgeon sits at a computer console using controls that manipulate the robot to perform the surgery.
Reduced pain, reduced reliance on pain medication
A major concern for many patients needing surgery is fear of ongoing pain and worries of using narcotics or opioids to control pain after the procedure. However, studies show that robotic-assisted surgeries result in less pain and, thus, less reliance on pain medication.
Anytime the use of opioids or narcotics can be reduced, the better. The opioid pandemic has become overwhelming for our healthcare system of patients getting hooked on these medications with devastating results. When pain can be better controlled, this is a better answer to prevent patients from needing or asking for strong pain control medications.
Robotic-assisted surgeries are the future of surgery. Patients who undergo a robotic surgery will have far less blood loss, less pain, a shorter recovery and hospital stay, and less risk of infection.
As we train both new and established physicians on using robotic-assisted surgery, this will be a major advantage for improving surgical outcomes for many medical conditions.
The only disadvantage at this time is the lack of availability nationwide. Currently, robotic-assisted surgeries are primarily available only in hospitals able to afford the technology and have surgeons specially trained in using this technology.
As this technology continues to improve and enhance the surgical outcomes of patients, demonstrating its superiority over traditional open surgeries, it’s expected that robotic-assisted surgery will be widely available in time.
Dr. David Samadi is the Director of Men’s Health and Urologic Oncology at St. Francis Hospital in Long Island. He’s a renowned and highly successful board certified Urologic Oncologist Expert and Robotic Surgeon in New York City, regarded as one of the leading prostate surgeons in the U.S., with a vast expertise in prostate cancer treatment and Robotic-Assisted Laparoscopic Prostatectomy. Dr. Samadi is a medical contributor to NewsMax TV and is also the author of The Ultimate MANual, Dr. Samadi’s Guide to Men’s Health and Wellness, available online both on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Visit Dr. Samadi’s websites at robotic oncology and prostate cancer 911.