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What Are the Risks of Robotic Surgery?

Daniel Marcus';

By Daniel Marcus

Posted on August 7th, 2020 in Marina Robotics

According to a study published in JAMA Network Open, a monthly open-access medical journal published by the American Medical Association, robotic surgery accounted for over 15% of all the surgical procedures performed in the United States in 2018. Therefore, robotic surgery is on the rise and numerous people are considering it for treating their health problems, as it is minimally invasive and entails a low risk. However, it is still a surgery and, like any other surgery, it implies a series of risks, although fewer than open surgery. Robotic surgery entails a surgeon controlling a computer that performs the procedure with the help of several steel arms and is thereby very precise. The computer never performs any operation without the assistance of the surgeon. The arms of the robotic equipment have cameras attached so that the surgeon can closely monitor the actions performed by it on the screen of a computer.

What Are the Most Common Risks of Robotic Surgery?

While rare, the risks of robotic surgery, regardless of the procedure that is performed, include the following:

  • bleeding
  • temporary nerve or organ injuries
  • stroke or heart attack
  • infection
  • breathing problems
  • the development of blood clots
  • cardiopulmonary risks of anesthesia
  • burns leading to tissue damage
  • nerve palsies

Another risk of robotic surgery is mechanical failure and malfunction of the system, which only occurs in less than 1% of the cases. If this happens, the surgeon will be ready to perform the surgery laparoscopically or by using open surgery, which implies more risks than robotic surgery, as the damage to the body will be greater. By using alternative procedures if the robotic system malfunctions, the procedure will take longer to complete and the patient may need additional anesthesia, as well as larger incisions to perform the surgery.

What Preventive Measures Can Surgeon Take to Ensure Robotic Surgery Will Go Smoothly?

However, there are a series of preventive measures the surgeons need to take before performing robotic surgery on a patient, such as the following:

  • follow the credentialing guidelines
  • make sure that the staff are competent and trained to perform robotic surgery
  • focused professional performance evaluation
  • thoroughly assess the health of the patient beforehand to ensure that the procedure is appropriate and safe
  • improve team communication, as for robotic surgery, the medical team must communicate in different ways, since the surgeon conducting the procedure is usually staying at a console away from the operating table

If you are taking into consideration undergoing robotic surgery for your health problem, it is a good idea to inform yourself with regard to the risks and benefits of this procedure. At Cedars Sinai Marina del Rey Hospital, we have a special department that specializes in performing robotic surgery, which significantly decreases the risk of complications during or following the procedure. For more information, please contact our medical staff and they will gladly answer all your questions and address all your concerns. After a complete health evaluation, our medical experts will determine whether you are eligible for undergoing robotic surgery. We will make sure that your robotic surgery goes smoothly and following the procedure, our medical team will monitor your vital signs for several days, which you will have to spend in the hospital to reduce the risk of any potential health complication.