In the United States, colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer and third leading cause of cancer-related deaths in both men and women. The American Cancer Society estimates that there will be over 100,000 new cases of colon cancer and 43,000 cases of rectal cancer in 2020 alone. If you have been diagnosed with colorectal cancer, your doctor may recommend a number of options, including immunotherapy, radiation therapy, and colectomy surgery.
Colon resection surgery, or a colectomy, involves removal of the diseased section of the colon along with nearby lymph nodes. This procedure can be performed through either traditional open surgery or one of two minimally invasive approaches: robot-assisted or laparoscopic surgery. In this article, Whalen Clark, M.D., a gastrointestinal surgeon in Tampa who specializes in non-invasive, robotic-assisted surgeries, will discuss the differences between robot-assisted and laparoscopic colorectal surgery and how you can decide which option is best for you.
Laparoscopic Colorectal Surgery
Laparoscopic colorectal surgery is a minimally invasive option involving the use of several small incisions, through which the doctor inserts several laparoscopic instruments and a specialized camera for viewing. The doctor uses these surgical instruments or special long-handled tools to perform the surgery while viewing magnified images from the camera on a video screen.
Compared with conventional open surgery, laparoscopic colorectal surgery has been shown to reduce length of hospital stay, length of incision, risk of scarring, risk of infection, and intraoperative blood loss. Additionally, laparoscopic procedures have been linked to shorter wait times before the patient is able to return normal activity, including eating, drinking, and bowel functions.
Robot-Assisted Colorectal Surgery
Robot-assisted colorectal surgery is performed by a surgeon who utilizes da Vinci technology to remove all or part of the colon with a few small incisions. The surgeon sits at a console beside the patient and operates tiny, wristed instruments with a camera that provides a high-definition, 3D magnified view of the inside of the body. The da Vinci system is able to translate precise hand movements of the surgeon into rotation and bending of the surgical instruments. Firefly fluorescence imaging may also be used to light up and demonstrate blood flow to the colon by activation of injected dye.
Robot-assisted surgery has been observed to be more advantageous than laparoscopic surgery, as it offers a three-dimensional operating field instead of a two-dimensional image, leading to fewer or no dilemmas with depth perception. Moreover, robot-assisted colorectal surgery has been linked to fewer complications and shorter time of stay in the hospital than traditional and laparoscopic surgery.
Which Option is Right for You?
Dr. Whalen Clark, a renowned, board-certified surgeon who specializes in minimally invasive, gastrointestinal surgery in the Tampa area, performs colectomy surgery with the assistance of the da Vinci Surgical System. Dr. Clark recommends the state-of-the-art, cutting-edge robotic-assisted surgical techniques because they allow for a greater degree of control for the surgeon and a number of key benefits for the patient. These benefits include elimination of many of the drawbacks associated with traditional surgery: increased risk of blood loss and complications and increased hospitalization and recovery times. If you are interested in learning more about how you could benefit from robotic gastrointestinal surgery, schedule a consultation with Dr. Whalen Clark today.
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