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Robot-Assisted Laparoscopic Procedures

  • Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
Publication Type:


Robot-Assisted Laparoscopic Procedures


A robot-assisted laparoscopic surgery is when a doctor guides small robotic arms through tiny cuts in the belly to do surgery. It allows for greater range of motion than regular surgery.

Laparoscopic Cholecystectomy.

Close-up view of laparoscopic tools used to remove the gallbladder (green structure).

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Reasons for Procedure

This method is used when surgery needs to be precise. Examples of robot-assisted laparoscopic surgeries are:

The benefits of this type of surgery are:

  • Less blood loss
  • Lower risk of infection
  • Less scarring
  • Less trauma to the body
  • Faster recovery
  • Less time in the hospital

Possible Complications

Problems from robot-assisted surgeries are rare, but all procedures have some risk. The doctor will go over some problems that could happen, such as:

  • Excessive bleeding
  • Problems from anesthesia, such as wheezing or sore throat
  • Infection
  • Damage to nearby organs or structures
  • The need to switch to traditional surgery types, such as traditional laparoscopic or open surgery

Things that may raise the risk of problems are:

What to Expect

Problems to Look Out For

Call the doctor if you are not getting better or you have:

  • Signs of infection, such as fever and chills
  • Redness, swelling, increasing pain, excessive bleeding, or discharge from a wound
  • Belly swelling or pain
  • Severe nausea or vomiting
  • Lasting diarrhea or constipation
  • Blood in the stool
  • Pain or swelling in the feet, calves, or legs
  • Cough, shortness of breath, or chest pain
  • Being unable to eat or drink liquids
  • Headache and lightheadedness
  • New or unexpected symptoms

If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.

Prior to Procedure

The surgical team may meet with you to talk about:

  • Anesthesia options
  • Any allergies you may have
  • Current medicines, herbs, and supplements that you take and whether you need to stop taking them before surgery
  • Fasting before surgery, such as avoiding food or drink after midnight the night before
  • Arranging for a ride to and from surgery
  • Tests that will need to be done before surgery, such as imaging tests


The doctor may give:

Description of the Procedure

Several small cuts will be made. A needle may be used to inject gas into the belly. This will make it easier to see inside the body. A scope with a small camera on the end will be passed through one of the cuts. The camera will display the area on a video screen. Next, robotic arms holding tools will be inserted through the cuts.

While sitting nearby, the doctor will use lenses to look at a magnified 3-D image of the inside of the body. Another doctor will adjust the camera and tools. The robotic arms and tools will be guided by the surgeon. When the surgery is done, the tools will be removed. Stitches or staples will be used to close the cuts. Bandages will be used to cover them.

Laparoscopic Tools.

Laparascopic toolshttp://services.epnet.com/getimage.aspx?imageiid=76037603si55551264.jpgsi55551264.jpgNULLjpgsi55551264.jpgNULL\\hgfiler01a\intellect\images\si55551264.jpgNULL76NULL2008-12-10340400Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

How Long Will It Take?

About 1 to 2 hours. It depends on the type of surgery.

Will It Hurt?

It depends on the surgery, but pain and swelling are common in the first 2 weeks. Medicine and home care can help.

Average Hospital Stay

The usual length of stay is about two days. If you have any problems, you may need to stay longer.

Post-procedure Care

At the Care Center

Right after the procedure, the staff may give you pain medicine.

During your stay, staff will take steps to lower your chance of infection, such as:

  • Washing their hands
  • Wearing gloves or masks
  • Keeping your wounds covered

You can also lower your chance of infection by:

  • Washing your hands often and reminding visitors and staff to do the same
  • Reminding staff to wear gloves or masks
  • Not letting others touch your wounds

At Home

Activities will be limited during recovery. You may need to ask for help with daily activities and delay your return to work. It will take a few weeks to heal.





  • Laparoscopic/robotic surgery. UF Health website. Available at: https://urology.ufl.edu/patient-care/robotic-laparoscopic-urologic-surgery.
  • Management of appendicitis in adolescents and adults. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/management/management-of-appendicitis-in-adolescents-and-adults.
  • Robotic surgery center. The Robotic Surgery Center at NYU Langone Medical Center website. Available at: https://nyulangone.org/locations/robotic-surgery-center.
  • Robotically assisted heart surgery. Cleveland Clinic website. Available at: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/treatments/17438-robotically-assisted-heart-surgery.


  • James P. Cornell, MD
Last Updated:

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.