The practice of medicine has and continues to evolve. One of the biggest assets to our profession has been the advancement of minimally invasive surgery.

Minimally invasive surgery (MIS) or laparoscopic surgery is a process of performing both simple and complex surgeries through multiple tiny incisions instead of the more traditional single, large incisions.

MIS has continued to evolve since the 1980s. The most recent approach to minimally invasive surgery is the da Vinci Robotic Surgical System by Intuitive Surgical.

The da Vinci Robotic Surgical System has been an integral part of my practice since 2009. When you hear the term “robotic,” you might assume a robot performs the surgery.

Da Vinci robotic surgery is actually surgery performed by a surgeon who has undergone special training in the use of the robotic system. The surgeon is always in control of the operation and is the one actually performing the necessary procedure.

The da Vinci Robotic Surgical System is designed so that the surgeon has the ability to proceed with procedures through a 3D high-definition vision system using tiny instruments that bend.

When laparoscopic surgery began in the 1980s, the instruments were designed to pass through small incisions, but were straight and could not bend. This limited the ability to perform laparoscopic surgery in more complicated situations.

The advantage of bendable instruments through the da Vinci robotic system allows the surgeon to use the instruments with dexterity that not only matches but also exceeds the flexibility of the human hand itself. The design of the da Vinci robotic system provides overall:

  • greater control of surgery
  • increased range of motion
  • improved surgical precision

All of this is accomplished through incisions that are usually less than 1/2 inch in length.

To date, more than 300,000 surgeries have been performed using the da Vinci robotic system in various specialties. I have incorporated this system into the management of uterine fibroids, endometriosis and removal of ovaries. The system has also been used in the management of GYN cancers and pelvic prolapse.

The benefits of da Vinci robotic surgery to patients have been fewer complications of surgery, including less blood loss, less risk of infection, less scarring and less postoperative pain.

The hospital stay is usually overnight. Overall recovery is quick, which allows patients to return to their normal, daily routine at a faster pace.

Dr. Ardra Davis-Tolbert is a board certified OB/GYN on the staff at Coastal Carolina Hospital.