What is Minimally Invasive Surgery?

Minimally invasive surgery is surgery that is typically performed through small incisions, or operating ports, rather than large incisions (open surgery), resulting in potentially shorter recovery times, fewer complications, reduced hospital costs (due in large part to shorter hospital stays), and reduced trauma to the patient. 

What is different about robotic-assisted surgery?

The technology available at Bellin Health (the da Vinci Surgical System) allows an experienced surgeon to decrease potential damage to healthy muscle, nerves and tissue even in extremely small surgical fields or in highly complex procedures. The robotic assisted surgeon experiences much greater surgical precision, an increased range of motion, improved dexterity, and improved access to the field. He also maintains enhanced visualization, viewing a high definition, real time, true-to-life 3-D image of the surgical field on the monitor at the console. The specially calibrated robot-like tools help the surgeon maintain precision and responds to the command of the surgeons hands seamlessly, all through incisions that are only 1-2 centimeters in size.

Is the surgeon using the da Vinci Surgical System operating in “virtual reality” or off a video of the surgical field?

Although the surgeon performing the operation is seated at a console a few feet away from the patient, the surgeon views the surgical field with enhanced visibility (due to the nature of the camera and monitoring system) and operates in real time, through tiny incisions, using miniaturized, wristed instruments. At no time does the surgeon see a virtual image or programs/commands the system to perform any maneuver on its own/outside the surgeon’s direct, real time control.

What exactly are the benefits of choosing this method as a patient?

As a patient undergoing robotic-assisted surgery you can expect to experience less pain, faster recovery, reduced time in the hospital and less scarring. Although the technology is expensive, the reduced time in the hospital as well as the decreased risk of (sometimes expensive) complications means robotic-assisted surgery is also more cost effective than other methods.

Will a robot be performing an operation on me?

No. The surgeon's hands are entirely in control of the robotic technology- it functions as an extension of the surgeon’s hands. Allowing complex procedures to be performed as if the hands were inside the body, with increased dexterity, precision, and visibility while giving the benefits of a minimally invasive procedure.

Where will my surgeon be during the procedure?

Rather than standing over the patient, a primary surgeon sits at a console in the operating room. At this console he or she views an enhanced, true-to-life 3-D image of the surgical field. Using special controllers, the surgeon performs the surgery using hand movements at the console. Using the high definition monitor to view the body cavity as seen through the tiny camera that is displaying real time footage from a small port and operating the robotic system accordingly. 

Has the FDA approved the da Vinci Surgical System?

The FDA has cleared the use of the da Vinci Surgical System for a wide range or procedures. The list of specific clearances and uses for the system changes with time, please see the FDA clearance page for updated information. At Bellin, we only perform procedures that have been studied extensively and proven effective and more beneficial than traditional surgery. Surgeons are always developing new applications for the technology, but they are not used on patients until extensive research has been done and the surgeon is highly trained.

Will my insurance cover the procedure?

Da Vinci surgery and all robotic-assisted surgeries are categorized as minimally invasive, therefore if your insurance policy covers minimally invasive surgery it generally covers robotic assisted surgery at the same level. It is important to note that your coverage depends on your individual plan and benefits package, your insurance carrier will be able to give you specifics tailored to your plan. For specifics regarding reimbursement for da Vinci surgeries, or if you’ve been denied coverage, please call the da Vinci reimbursement hotline at 1-888-868-4647 ext. 3128. More information on facility specific pricing and charges is also available by calling the Wisconsin Hospital Information Center at 1-800-231-8340.

How do I know if robotic assisted surgery is a good option for me?

Please consult with your surgeon to determine if robotic assisted surgery is a good option. If you wish to find a physician, schedule an appointment, or if you have any questions regarding robotic-assisted surgery, please call 920-445-7373 and a member of our staff is always available and happy to help you.