Robotic Surgery Offers Greater Surgical Precision in Colon Cancer Removal
Every year, more than 40,000 people in the United States develop rectal cancer and most of these tumors are low-lying, which means that the tumor develops almost at the end of the colon.
The position of the tumor presents a major challenge for the surgeons because it is technically very difficult to access and there is a restricted view of the operating area because of the anatomically constricted lesser pelvis.
In addition, the neuroplexus surrounding the area is very dense and sensitive, and any damage to the nerve can cause incontinence or loss of sexual function.
The Latest Development in Robot-assisted Colorectal Surgery
Until recently, the bowel tumors in the lesser pelvis (rectal tumors) were removed through open surgery, which involved a major, generally invasive operation. This is quite cumbersome for the patients because of the large surgical wound that needs longer healing time. The rectal tumor removal has also been possible through laparoscopy (keyhole surgery). However, the laparoscopic method is used in less than 30% of rectal cancer cases because of the anatomical position that makes the procedure difficult. Additionally, the conversion rate or the need to switch from the laparoscopic method to open surgery in between the operation is very high and such conversions are also associated with higher complications.
Colorectal surgeries can now be performed through an innovative robot-assisted method that provides a better three-dimensional view of the operating area. The surgeon will be controlling a 4-armed surgical robot from a console while receiving an enlarged three-dimensional picture of the operating area. The robotic instruments allow surgery to be performed in a highly accurate manner in the anatomically constricted lesser pelvis region. The optimal visibility coupled with the mobility of the robotic arms in seven different degrees of freedom makes robot-assisted surgery a highly accurate nerve conserving operating technique that involves less blood loss. As a result, robotic surgery can achieve excellent results with fewer incisions and minimal surgical trauma.
Studies Suggest that Robotic Surgery is Advantageous
Robotic surgery has clear advantages over the open or laparoscopic surgical methods, specifically in constricted anatomical positions such as the lesser pelvis. Moreover, studies have shown that surgeons can easily learn the robot-assisted method compared to the laparoscopic procedure and experience less fatigue because of better ergonomics. Overall, robotic surgery can be considered the standard procedure for the removal of colorectal tumors, especially low-lying rectal cancers.