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Frequently Asked Questions

What is Minimally Invasive Surgery (MIS)?

MIS is surgery typically performed through small incisions, or operating ports, rather than large incisions, resulting in shorter recovery times, fewer complications, reduced hospitalization costs and reduced trauma to the patient. MIS has become standard-of-care for particular surgical procedures, it has not been widely adopted for more complex or delicate procedures – for example, prostatectomy and mitral valve repair.

Intuitive Surgical believes that surgeons have been slow to adopt MIS for complex procedures because they generally find that fine-tissue manipulation – such as dissecting and suturing – is more difficult and are less precise than in open surgery. Intuitive Surgical’s technology, however, enables the use of MIS technique for complex procedures.

Will the da Vinci Surgical System make the surgeon unnecessary?

On the contrary, the da Vinci System enables surgeons to be more precise, advancing their technique and enhancing their capability in performing complex minimally invasive surgery. The System replicates the surgeon’s movements in real time. It cannot be programmed, nor can it make decisions on its own to move in any way or perform any type of surgical maneuver without the surgeon’s input.

What are the benefits of using the da Vinci Surgical System over more traditional methods of surgery?

Some of the major benefits experienced by surgeons using the da Vinci Surgical System over traditional approaches have been greater surgical precision, increased range of motion, improved dexterity, enhanced visualization and improved access. Benefits experienced by patients may include a shorter hospital stay, less pain, less risk of infection, less blood loss, fewer transfusions, less scarring, faster recovery and a quicker return to normal daily activities. None of these benefits can be guaranteed, as surgery can be both patient- and procedure-specific.

Is this “robotic surgery?”

Devices for “robotic surgery” are designed to perform entirely autonomous movements after being programmed by a surgeon. The da Vinci Surgical System is a computer-enhanced system that interposes a computer between the surgeon’s hands and the tips of micro-instruments. The system replicates the surgeon’s movements in real time. It cannot be programmed, nor can it make decisions on its own to move in any way or perform any type of surgical maneuver. Sometimes, however, the general term “robotic surgery” is used to refer to our technology.

Why is the product called the da Vinci® Surgical System?

The product is called “da Vinci” in part because Leonardo da Vinci invented the first robot. He also used unparalleled anatomical accuracy and three-dimensional details to bring his masterpieces to life. The da Vinci Surgical System similarly provides physicians with such enhanced detail and precision that the System can simulate an open surgical environment while allowing operation through tiny incisions.

Is a surgeon using the da Vinci Surgical System operating in “virtual reality”?

Although seated at a console a few feet away from the patient, the surgeon views an actual image of the surgical field while operating in real-time, through tiny incisions, using electromechanically enhanced instruments. At no time does the surgeon see a virtual image or program/command the system to perform any maneuver on its own/outside of the surgeon’s direct, real-time control.

While using the da Vinci Surgical System, can the surgeon feel anything inside the patient’s chest or abdomen?

The system relays force feedback sensations from the operative field back to the surgeon throughout the procedure. Force feedback provides a substitute for tactile sensation. Visual clues from reflected light also adds to the “feel” of the operation.

Has the da Vinci Surgical System been cleared by the FDA?

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has cleared the da Vinci Surgical System for a wide range of procedures. Please see the FDA Clearance page for specific clearances and representative uses.

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