In many cases, minimally invasive procedures are more effective in treating the condition and both short- and long-term prognosis is more favorable than traditional surgical techniques.
Robot-assisted surgery is a special form of minimally invasive surgery. At UTMB Health, we use the da Vinci Surgical system, which was first approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2000. In many applications, robot-assisted surgery has significant advantages over traditional minimally invasive surgery and open surgical techniques. The robotic system provides better visibility as a result of its 3D, high definition imaging capabilities.
In addition, hand-eye coordination is intuitive, in contrast to other minimally invasive (laparoscopic) systems, where the instruments’ movement on the monitor is opposite the direction of the surgeon’s hand. Robotic surgical systems have seven degrees of motion, just like a human wrist, whereas traditional minimally invasive surgical instruments are mostly restricted to four degrees of motion.
The different types of minimally invasive surgery:
Advanced, computer-enhanced technologies provide new
alternatives to surgical procedures. Robot-assisted surgery is a special
form of minimally invasive surgery (we use the da Vinci surgical
system). Robot-assisted surgery is often associated with improved
patient outcomes and less pain, blood loss, scarring and time to
Endoscopic surgery makes use of an endoscope, which is a thin
tube with a small camera and light attached. As the doctor moves the
endoscope through a body passageway (such as the gastrointestinal tract
or respiratory tract) or opening (including from surgery), he or she
can see inside the organ or tissue. Endoscopes are used for diagnosing
conditions throughout the body. Advances in endoscopic medicine have
led to the development of new endoscopic tools that enable physicians
to see, diagnose and treat numerous conditions. The treatment of
conditions with endoscopic tools is called therapeutic endoscopy.
Endovascular surgery is a minimally invasive procedure used to
treat problems affecting the blood vessels. The surgeon will get access
to the problem area, such as a clogged artery, through the femoral
artery, for example. Sliding a long catheter through the artery, the
clog will be treated with a self-adjusting stent or inflatable balloon.
Unlike traditional vascular surgery, local anesthesia is typically
used for endovascular surgery, and recovery time is reduced.
Laparoscopic surgery or laparoscopy is a form of minimally
invasive surgery in which a small incision is made in the abdominal
wall through which an instrument called a laparoscope is inserted. The
laparoscope has a tiny video camera enabling the surgeon to see inside
the abdomen without a large open surgical incision. The surgical area
is magnified on a TV monitor.
The surgeon makes a few small incisions that are each
about one-quarter to one-half inch long and inserts several small, thin
instruments with which to operate. By carefully removing diseased
tissue in small pieces, cancerous and damaged organs can be removed
through laparoscopic techniques.
Video-assisted Thorascopic Surgery
Video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS) is a minimally
invasive surgical technique used to diagnose and treat problems in your
During a video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery procedure, a tiny
camera (thoracoscope) and surgical instruments are inserted into your
chest through several small incisions. The thoracoscope transmits images
of the inside of your chest onto a video monitor, guiding the surgeon
in performing the procedure.
Surgeons use the video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery technique to perform a variety of operations, such as:
When compared with a traditional open operation (thoracotomy),
video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery may result in less pain and shorten