Robotic surgery enables faster recovery

Robotic surgery has revolutionized surgery, offering surgeons the precision and control necessary for successful surgeries while providing expert care and short recovery periods for patients.

Originally, robotic surgery was developed for use in the military. Officials hoped robotic surgery would allow doctors to help patients on the front lines without the accompanying danger of performing surgery in combat zones. Currently, this type of long-distance telesurgery is proving to be difficult on the battlefield, but robotic surgery technology is being put to good use in civilian hospitals like those of Ministry Health Care.

Robotic surgery has been used for over a decade to provide minimally invasive surgical options for bariatric surgery, hysterectomy, and radical prostatectomy, a treatment for prostate cancer.

“We have seen a strong and growing consumer demand for minimally invasive procedures,” said Larry Hegland, MD, chief medical officer at Ministry Saint Clare’s Hospital in Weston. “Our goal is to make a difference in patients’ lives and restore them to good health as quickly as possible.”

The term “minimally invasive” indicates that rather than operate on patients through large incisions, doctors use miniaturized surgical instruments that operate through quarter-inch incisions. The precision of the robotic movements and the magnification of the surgical site allows surgeons to make precise micro-movements. Doctors can maintain consistent control, with improved dexterity and increased precision during long and complex surgical procedures.

What happens during robotic surgery?

During robotic surgery, an experienced and specially trained surgeon sits at a computer console in the operating room to manipulate the robotic arms. A magnified, high-definition 3D camera shows the surgeon top quality images from inside the patient. With this camera, the surgeon has a more detailed view of the surgical site than his or her own eyes can provide at the precise angles needed.

Using a set of master controls, the surgeon performs the surgery by operating all four arms of the surgical robot simultaneously. The surgeon can adjust the scale of the robot’s movements for precise accuracy. The robot mirrors the surgeon’s hand movements according to a pre-determined scale. This technology gives surgeons the ability to make micro-movements, some of which would be impossible to do freehand, with instruments smaller than a human hand can control.

Ultimately, the aim of surgical robots is to increase surgery success while decreasing the physical impact on the patient – typically meaning less pain, less blood loss and a shorter recovery period.

Just ask Shelly Stecker. When diagnosed with ovarian cysts in July 2010, Stecker chose robotic surgery. She had the surgery July 9, was discharged July 10, and resumed normal activities, including camping, swimming and hiking just two weeks after surgery.

Expert surgeons have used five robots to perform more than 2,100 robotic surgeries in hospitals in the Ministry Health Care network. Many of the patients who have had robotic surgery at Ministry Health Care’s hospitals have gone home the same day and returned to normal activities faster than they expected.

Currently, robotic surgery is available at:

For more information about robotic surgery, talk to your doctor to see if robotic surgery is an option for you.

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