What is Robotic Cancer Surgery?
Robotic surgery for cancer is a minimally invasive surgery that involves fewer incisions and affords better vision and precision for a surgeon. This surgery, in which the surgeon or surgical team is aided by robots, helps remove tumours that are otherwise hard to reach. The duration of this type of surgery is shorter than conventional surgery. Side effects from this surgery are fewer than from traditional surgery.
Alternative Name of Robotic Cancer Surgery
Tumour removal from the colon, lungs, uterus, liver, pancreas, head and neck, and reproductive organs.
How to Perform Robotic Cancer Surgery?
The surgeon performs the surgery with the help of robotic tools, and the robotic arms are controlled remotely using a console. One of the robotic arms carries a laparoscope, and the other arm holds a small surgical instrument, which can fit into an inch-long incision.
The screen gives a 3-dimensional view of the tumour, helping the surgeon to remove the tumour precisely. A joystick controls each robotic arm. This joystick can be compared to the wrist of a human arm and is dextrous as the hands using which the surgeon performs surgery with precision. A trained surgeon performs this surgery without even touching the patient's body.
Preparation for Robotic Cancer Surgery
- Pre-operative instructions must be followed exactly as instructed by the doctor. Urine, blood tests, and electrocardiogram profiling must be done as needed.
- Avoid ingesting blood thinners 7-10 days before surgery.
- Vitamin supplements and herbal medications should be avoided 10 days before surgery.
- Any consumption of food and drink should be avoided before surgery as the administration of anaesthesia will increase the risk of vomiting, and the contents of the stomach might enter the lungs.
- Excess weight should be shed as in an overweight body, access to body parts is reduced, and the risk of development of any complications is increased.
- Bowel cleansing is encouraged as a clean intestinal tract occupies less space in the abdomen and pelvic region. This will give the surgeon better access to the surgery site. As part of bowel preparation, a clear liquid diet is prescribed before surgery.
- Smoking must be avoided for a month before surgery to ensure better lung function.
Robotic Cancer Procedure Type
Minimally invasive surgery.
Follow-up After Robotic Cancer Surgery
Follow-up appointments will begin two to three months after treatment. They will be scheduled every three to six months. Around two years after surgery, follow-ups may become less frequent. The concerned physician or nurse will give a follow-up appointment schedule. The nurse or doctor will give information on the possible side effects, details about any warning signals to look out for, and whom to approach when such changes are noticed.
Risks for Robotic Cancer Surgery
Risks associated with robotic surgery for cancer are rarer than conventional surgery. However, certain complications can occur, such as:
- Reactions to anesthesia
- A clot in the lungs or legs
- Infections at the surgery site
- Damage to nearby organs
In some rare cases, during surgery, certain intestinal parts might be damaged, which might lead to infections in the stomach. Further surgery might be needed to fix this. In cases involving the removal of lymph nodes, lymphoceles (a collection of lymphatic fluid within the body not bordered by epithelial linings) might accumulate and might need to be drained.
In very rare and extreme cases, death might occur. The patient's age, overall health, as well as the skill of the surgeon are also factors that might lead to complications.
Recovery from Robotic Cancer Surgery
The recovery rate following robotic surgery for cancer is very high and faster than conventional and laparoscopic surgery. It is a less-invasive surgery. The incisions made are a few centimeters long, and the precision of the surgery ensures that the patient recovers faster. The recovery time is as short as 2-3 weeks. Certain factors such as the patient's age and overall health also determine the recovery rate. Certain healthy individuals recover faster, even with or without oral medications.