Increasingly, cancer surgeries can now be performed using minimally invasive techniques that provide effective treatment with fewer side effects.
Known as keyhole or laparoscopic surgery, minimally invasive surgery uses tiny surgical tools to access tumours through incisions less than one inch in length.
A laparoscope is a long, thin tube with a microscopic lens that allows the surgeon to see the entire abdominal cavity on a computer screen. The laparoscope is inserted through a small incision near the navel. Surgical instruments are inserted through other incisions, allowing the operation to be performed without requiring a large external incision.
In comparison with conventional "open" surgery, minimally invasive surgery has several advantages:
A robotic surgery system consists of one or more robotic arms controlled remotely by a surgeon. A laparoscope is mounted on one of the robot arms. Surgical instruments can be inserted into an incision less than an inch in length using other arms. A surgeon sits at a console with a three-dimensional view of the tumour. Robotic arms are controlled by a joystick similar to that used in video games.
It is pertinent to note that although the robot arms perform the actual surgery, they still require direct input from the surgeon and cannot be operated on without human assistance. Robotic surgery reduces surgeon fatigue and eliminates hand tremors during long and complicated procedures.
The prostate or kidneys can be removed using robotic surgery. Additionally, it can be used to remove tumours from the uterus, lungs, and colon.