Robotic Surgery can be used to treat two conditions in the rectum: rectal prolapse and rectal cancer.
Rectal prolapse occurs when the wall of the rectum falls into the anus. A mass that sticks out from the anus is the most common symptom. It is a condition which occurs more commonly in elderly women and is often linked to constipation and/or previous childbirth.
Cancer of the rectum can be difficult to treat mainly due to its location inside the pelvis. The pelvic cavity is a narrow cavity and contains a number of important structures such as ureters, bladder, blood vessels to the pelvic organs and legs (iliac & femoral vessels) and pelvic nerves (nerves to the bladder and sexual nerves). The two factors above mean that surgical instruments with flexibility and a good magnified view close to the structures are advantageous in operations of the rectum. The robotic system is able to provide both an easier access and a better view.
Robotic surgery is also a form of laparoscopic surgery. Using a unique robotic system, only a few incisions are required, which allows for a more rapid recovery and less trauma. This also preserves nerves to the bladder and sexual organs and reduces the risks of urinary problems and impotence.
The benefits are similar to conventional laparoscopic surgery but with additional advantages of easier access, better views, reduced blood loss and reduced risks of injury to pelvic nerves:
The robotic system provides surgeons with enhanced capabilities including high-definition 3D vision and a magnified view. The 3D images provided are superior to the 2D images provided by conventional laparoscopy. The surgeon’s hand movements are translated into smaller more precise movements of tiny instruments inside the body. Although called a “robot”, the instrument does not act on its own. Your doctor performs the surgery, but the robotic system allows the surgery to be performed through just a few small openings. The instruments give a higher degree of freedom and thus provide better access in a confined space that is the pelvic cavity.
Adapted from Intuitive Surgical pamphlets on Robotic Surgery ©2013 Intuitive Surgical, Inc.