The evolution of surgery has taken us to a new era. Gone were the days where the surgeon is accompanied by many assistants in an operation theatre. Now he can accomplish the procedure with the help of a robot. Robotic colorectal surgery is a form of minimally invasive surgery to remove part of the colon or rectum. It is performed by a surgeon who controls a set of robotic system, also known as the Da Vinci System, to perform the surgery through minimally invasive “key-holes”. It can be done for both benign and malignant conditions and has many advantages over conventional “open” surgery.
Patients go for such procedure because it uses state of the art technology that enables surgeons to perform delicate and complex operations through a few tiny incisions with superior vision, precision, dexterity and control. Minimally invasive laparoscopic or “key-hole’ colorectal surgery has many advantages over conventional “open” surgery. These include faster post-operative recovery, less pain, less bowel ileus and improved cosmesis, while being equally safe and feasible.
There is also an enhanced perception of depth as the robot enables a three-dimensional view. This view is also greatly magnified and there is greater degree of wrist movement. It enables fine operation in a confined space such as the pelvis where colorectal operations take place. Hence, there is greatly enhanced dissection with less bleeding and greater preservation of vital structures such as the pelvic nerves. For the surgeon, there is less fatigue and fewer assistants are needed as the surgeon alone can control the camera, and up to 4 robotic arms for various roles such as retraction and dissection.
There are no major restrictions for patients to undergo robotic colorectal surgery. If they are suitable for laparoscopic surgery, then they are certainly suitable for robotic colorectal surgery. The only cases when minimally invasive colorectal surgery is not feasible would be when they have undergone previous abdominal surgery, whereby there may be internal scarring, or what is known as adhesions. The surgeon will then decide the suitability. Robotic colorectal surgery is a further advancement of conventional laparoscopic from conventional open surgery. It encompasses the benefits of laparoscopic surgery over open surgery, while at the same time overcoming some of the limitations of laparoscopic surgery through enhanced vision and wrist movement as mentioned earlier. As with any surgery, these benefits cannot be guaranteed since surgery is specific to each patient, condition and procedure. It is important to talk to your doctor about all treatment options, including the risks and benefits. This information can help you make the best decision for your situation.
This article was written by Prof Eu Kong Weng, Colorectal Surgeon at Colorectal Surgeons Inc., Mount Elizabeth Novena Specialist Centre and was published in This Quarterly magazine. For queries and consultation with Prof Eu Kong Weng, head to GetDoc.
by Hridya Anand
A biochemist by education who could never put what she studied to good use, finally found GetDoc as a medium to do what she loved - bring information to people using a forum that is dedicated to all things medical. View all articles by Hridya Anand.