Robotic Surgery

Dr. Kathleen Williams is one of a growing number of surgeons offering da Vinci Surgery for Colorectal conditions including Diverticulitis, Ulcerative Colitis, Crohn’s Disease, Rectal Prolapse and Colorectal Cancer.

Da Vinci Surgery is a less invasive surgical procedure.  Da Vinci is a state-of-the-art surgical system that enables your surgeon to operate through a few tiny incisions.  Its 3D-HD vision system allows surgeons to see key anatomy with great clarity.  da Vinci’s unique wristed instruments provide surgeons with enhanced precision, dexterity and control – critical for complex operations like colectomy.

The Conditions:

Diverticulitis, Ulcerative Colitis, Crohn’s Disease, Rectal Prolapse

The colon and rectum are part of the large intestine and pass waste from the body.  When a small pouch forms and inflames in the colon, the condition is called “Diverticulitis”.  It can cause bleeding, tears or blockages.  The most typical symptom is abdominal pain.  While Diverticulitis has been linked to a low fiber diet, the exact cause is unknown.  200,000 people are hospitalized for Diverticulitis annually in the US alone.

Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s Disease are jointly known as “inflammatory bowel disease” (IBD).  IBD causes the digestive tract to become inflamed.  Symptoms may include diarrhea, rectal bleeding, fever and weight loss.  Five million people worldwide have IBD but the exact cause is unknown.

Rectal Prolapse occurs when tissue lining falls into the anus.  The main symptom is a red mass that sticks out from the anus.  The condition is more common in the elderly and is often linked to constipation.

Colorectal Cancer

intestinal_tractColorectal Cancer usually starts in the glands of the colon or rectum lining.  Almost all cases of colorectal cancer begin as non-cancerous (benign) polyps that slowly develop into cancer.  Like many cancers, colorectal cancer can spread to lymph nodes or other organs.

Colorectal cancer symptoms may include blood in the stool, changes in bowel habits, pelvic pain, narrow stools and unexplained weight loss.

Colorectal cancer affects nearly 1.3 million people worldwide each year and is the fourth most common cause of cancer death.  Colorectal cancer is more common in men, in people over the age of 60 and in developed countries.

The Treatment:

For rectal cancer, surgeons perform low anterior resection (LAR) to connect the rectum to the colon after removing the cancer.  An abdominoperineal resection (APR) may also be performed if the rectal cancer is located too close to the anus.

Colorectal procedures are usually performed via traditional open surgery, meaning a large open abdominal incision is made from the public bone to just below the breastbone.  While open surgery can provide an effective treatment for colorectal cancer, it often involves significant trauma and a long recovery.

Laparoscopic surgery is a minimally invasive alternative to open surgery.  However, this approach is considered to be technically challenging due to the extensive dissection required, along with the limitations of traditional laparoscopic technology.

laparoscopic diagram

da Vinci Surgery

If your doctor recommends colorectal surgery, ask about minimally invasive da Vinci Surgery.  State-of-the-art da Vinci requires just a few tiny incisions so you can recover, move on to additional treatment, if needed, and get back to your life.

Da Vinci Surgery offers colorectal cancer patients the potential for excellent cancer control. When compared to open surgery, da Vinci offers, the following potential benefits:-

  • Less blood loss
  • Less pain
  • Shorter hospital stay
  • Quicker return of bowel movement
  • Quicker return to a normal diet
  • Faster recovery

Every surgery is unique to each patient and procedure, therefore benefits cannot be guaranteed but Da Vinci Surgery offers many potential benefits over traditional laparoscopic surgery including:-

  • Lower conversion rate to open surgery.
  • Fewer major complications
  • Shorter hospital stay
  • Quicker return to normal diet.

The Enabling Technology

Tiny instrument held in handThe da Vinci Surgical System is designed to provide surgeons with enhanced capabilities, including high-definition 3D vision and a magnified view.

Your doctor controls the da Vinci System, which translates his or her hand movements into smaller, more precise movements of tiny instruments inside your body. Though it is often called a “robot”, da Vinci cannot act on its own.  Surgery is performed entirely by your doctor.  Together, da Vinci technology allows your doctor to perform complex procedures, through just a few tiny openings.  As a result, you may be able to get back to your life without the usual recovery following major surgery.  The da Vinci System has been used successfully worldwide in hundreds of thousands of procedures to date.