Notes on Women's Health
Notes on Women's Health

What is da Vinci surgery?

Leonardo da Vinci

As I mentioned in my last blog, the da Vinci Surgical System uses a computerized interface between the surgeon and the instruments to conduct surgical procedures. The name “da Vinci” was chosen for the system because legendary artist and inventor Leonardo da Vinci is credited with designing the first robot. It’s also a fitting name because Leonardo da Vinci used anatomical accuracy and three-dimensional details to lend realism to his art.

For many people, the use of robots or robotic tools in surgery raises some concerns. One commonly accepted definition of a robot is “an automatically guided machine, able to do tasks on its own.” This definition is a bit vague, but experts generally agree that robots tend to do some or all of the following: move around, operate a mechanical limb, sense and manipulate their environment, and exhibit intelligent behavior, especially behavior which mimics humans or other animals.

Given only those definitions to describe da Vinci technology, I’d be concerned too. To be honest, I’ve avoided using the word “robot” or “robotic” to describe the da Vinci Surgical System in my website. It’s not really an accurate term, since the da Vinci system is directed and controlled by a human being – in this case, a specially trained surgeon whose finger movements are transmitted electronically from a console in the surgery room to the da Vinci cameras and surgical instruments. Along with the surgeon and the equipment, an assistant surgeon, an anesthesiologist, and a nurse are generally by the patient’s bed.

While it’s definitely not the kind of robot you might picture from the movies, da Vinci surgery draws upon years of robotic technology. The cameras and surgical tools are truly state-of-the-art, and provide a level of precision which is crucial when working in close proximity to delicate organs like the bladder. Benefits of da Vinci surgery usually include:

  • Less pain after surgery
  • Less scarring
  • Lower risk of infection
  • Less blood loss
  • Faster recovery

When my patients ask me about da Vinci technology, I generally tell them this: The da Vinci Surgical System is not the only option for surgery, but it has many advantages and few disadvantages relative to more traditional methods of surgery.

In my next blog, I’ll write about the types of conditions that can be treated using da Vinci. If you need information more quickly, you can click on any of the links below, or you can contact my office directly.

Links to da Vinci surgery resources


Dr. Garofalo’s da Vinci information page

Dr. John Garofalo, M.D., is a certified da Vinci surgeon in Fairfield County, Connecticut. For more information on Dr. Garofalo and his medical practice, go to www.garofaloobgyn.com. Dr. Garofalo can be reached for a personal consultation at 203.855.3535.