Laparoscopic surgery means that rather than making a large incision (which we used to in the old days), we make these small incisions – usually three incisions – and insert a video camera and we perform an operation using very small instruments through these small incisions. Robotic surgery is a variation of that where we still make the small incisions, but rather than my hands holding these instruments, we have large robotic arms that are holding these instruments. I sit at a console that’s about 10 feet away from the patient and look through a 3D high-definition viewfinder. I move my hands in virtual space and that controls the robotic arms and allows me to perform the operation without actually standing next to the patient. People often ask why we would do that and it’s because the robotic instruments have not only a great deal of dexterity and finesse, but they also have what we call wristed instruments. Meaning that the instruments themselves, rather than just opening and closing, they have wrists on them like your hands and when you can swing them around and rotate and move around, that allows you to do some really fine motion and it makes operating that much easier.
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