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Guided da Vinci robot assists prostatectomy surgery at Weill Cornell

NEW YORK -- At an international symposium June 25, Weill Cornell Medical College unveiled the latest star on its prostate cancer surgical team: a robot named da Vinci. The robot emulates the anatomic precision of its namesake to offer a new, minimally invasive and less compromising approach to prostatectomy, the removal of the prostate gland.

The symposium discussed advanced robotic techniques in prostatectomy. Ashutosh Tewari, assistant professor of urology and director of robotic prostatectomy and outcomes research, led the symposium, which featured a video demonstration of how the da Vinci can guide surgeons with anatomical precision to increase the success rate of the surgery, which is a treatment for localized prostate cancer.

The state-of-the-art system comprises a surgeon console and a patient-side robotic system with a high-resolution camera and micro-instruments used in surgery. The device scales the hand movements of the surgeon down to the micro movements of the instruments. Unlike standard laparoscopic instruments, the specialized da Vinci instruments can rotate 360 degrees with unparalleled precision and flexibility. The camera affords the surgeon a clear, magnified and three-dimensional view inside the pelvis, articulating the muscles and delicate nerves involved in both urination and erections. The da Vinci robot helps the surgeon remove the cancerous prostate while sparing these structures. Once the prostate is cleanly detached, it is removed through a tiny incision in the abdomen. The da Vinci marks an improvement over conventional prostatectomy in its smaller, less painful incisions, reduced blood loss and scarring, shorter hospital stay, improved cancer control, early return of urinary function and improved outlooks for potency. 

The da Vinci robot assists surgeons in increasing the number of successful outcomes and in preserving neurovascular tissue. With the robot's assistance, surgeons have achieved a delicate balance between these two goals. Critical pointers were provided at the symposium by those who have mastered robotic-assisted radical prostatectomy (RRP).

The symposium covered techniques of performing RRP, identifying suitable patients and understanding the latest developments in early sexual recovery following RRP.

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