Q&A: Robotic Surgery Helping Hands

August 25, 2021 Providence News Team

Extensive use of robotic surgery improves patient outcomes.

At Providence Little Company of Mary Medical Centers San Pedro and Torrance, we take pride in offering robotic surgery for a range of conditions. We asked James E. Camel, MD, a fellow of the American College of Surgeons, chief of surgery at Providence Little Company of Mary and an expert in robotic surgery, to explain how robots are used in our hospitals. 

What robots are used at Providence Little Company of Mary? 

The da Vinci Surgical System is primarily for general surgery, gynecologic surgery, urology and thoracic surgery. 

The Mako robotic arm system is used for knee and hip replacement procedures. Using 3D images obtained from a CT scan prior to the surgery, the Mako system takes those images and correlates them with the patient’s actual anatomy, allowing the surgeon to see the bones and ligaments in real time and make customized adjustments. 

Neurosurgery uses the Brainlab neuro-navigation robotic system, which includes CT images to precisely locate brain lesions and allow imaging while in the operating room.

What are the advantages of having robotic surgery?

Robotic-assisted surgery is a form of minimally invasive surgery, or laparoscopic surgery. The robot is computer-controlled and assists the surgeon in doing the procedure. We see everything in 3D, which helps a surgeon be more precise. The da Vinci robot allows greater access into areas of the body that are sometimes more difficult to access with the human hand. It provides better dexterity and allows the surgeon to operate in smaller spaces in the body.

Do patients benefit?

It helps surgeons do their job better, which in turn helps our patients. There are fewer complications, which results in a better outcome for the patient. Patients have less pain, smaller incisions, shorter hospital stays, less infection and less scarring.

What are the biggest misconceptions about robotic surgery?

Sometimes people think the robot is doing the surgery, but the proper term is robotic-assisted surgery. The surgeon performs the surgery; the robot assists. It is an extra hand to hold and move tissue. It helps with precise calculations in complex procedures.

Are uses for robotic surgery increasing?

There are specific procedures where robotic-assisted surgery is the standard of care, but robotic surgery is not for every patient. With improved technology and functionality, additional procedures may be identified.

What key questions should patients ask when considering robotic surgery?

First, you want to ensure that robotic-assisted surgery is the right choice. Not all surgical procedures can be performed using this cutting-edge method. You also want to ensure your surgeon has been trained in robotic surgery and has experience doing the procedure you are having. 

Finally, make sure you understand all your options and you are comfortable with what your physician is telling you. Every situation is different, and you want a physician who appreciates your unique case.

For more information on robotic surgery, call 844-925-0942.

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