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Q. I need to have an ovarian cyst removed and was told that the procedure could be done using robotic-assisted surgery. What is the difference between robotic-assisted surgery and regular laparoscopic surgery?

A. When it comes to gynecologic procedures, both traditional laparoscopic surgery and robotic-assisted surgery have the benefit of being minimally invasive, often leaving the patient with minimal scarring and a short recovery time. However, robotic-assisted surgery is becoming more and more common for gynecological procedures due to the accuracy it provides for the surgeon and its ability to make procedures less invasive for the patient.

At the RWJ Center for Women’s Health, for example, we use The da Vinci Surgical System® for a number of procedures, including hysterectomies, myomectomies and the removal of ovarian cysts.

During the surgery, the robotic system provides the surgeon with enhanced capabilities including high-definition 3D vision and a magnified view. This enables the surgeon to see tissues and blood vessels at a greater level of detail than traditional laparoscopic surgery.

Rest assured, the surgery is still performed entirely by your doctor. The robot cannot act on its own. Instead, the system translates the surgeon’s hand movements into smaller, more precise movements of tiny instruments inside your body, allowing for greater accuracy during the procedure.

Robotic-assisted gynecological surgery can have many benefits for the patient, such as less scarring and blood loss, less time under anesthesia, a shorter hospital stay and a quicker return to normal activities. But it’s important to note that these benefits may vary by patient and procedure.

–Dr. Robert Mayson, FACOG, RWJ Center for Women’s Health, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Hamilton

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