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da Vinci Prostatectomy Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Why is the product called the da Vinci® Surgical System?

A. The da Vinci System is called "da Vinci" in part because Leonardo da Vinci invented the first robot. da Vinci also used unparalleled anatomical accuracy and three-dimensional details to bring his masterpieces to life. The da Vinci Surgical System similarly provides physicians with such enhanced detail and precision that the System can simulate an open surgical environment while allowing operation through tiny incisions.

Q. What is minimally invasive surgery (MIS)?

A. The term MIS can be used interchangeably with laparoscopy or endoscopic surgery. Minimally invasive surgery is performed through dime-sized (1-2 cm) incisions--also called operating ports. This is in contrast to the much larger incisions used in traditional, open surgery, which are often as large as 6-12 inches long. In cardiac surgery, a conventional "open" approach also involves splitting the breastbone and opening the ribs.

The smaller incisions used in MIS typically enable shorter recovery times and result in less pain, less blood loss, fewer transfusions, fewer infections, and reduced hospitalization costs. While MIS has become standard-of-care for particular surgical procedures, it has not been widely adopted for more complex or delicate procedures--for example, prostatectomy and mitral valve repair.

Intuitive Surgical believes that surgeons have been slow to adopt MIS for complex procedures because they find that fine-tissue manipulation--such as dissecting and suturing--is more difficult and less precise using traditional MIS (laparoscopy or endoscopic surgery) than with open surgery. Intuitive Surgical's technology, however, enables the use of MIS technique for complex procedures.

Q. What are the benefits of using the da Vinci Surgical System when compared with traditional methods of surgery?

A. Some of the major benefits experienced by surgeons using the da Vinci Surgical System over traditional approaches have been greater surgical precision, increased range of motion, improved dexterity, enhanced visualization and improved access. Benefits experienced by patients may include a shorter hospital stay, less pain, less risk of infection, less blood loss, fewer transfusions, less scarring, faster recovery and a quicker return to normal daily activities. None of these benefits can be guaranteed, as surgery can be both patient- and procedure-specific.

Q: What procedures have been performed using the da Vinci Surgical System? What additional procedures are possible?

A: To date, tens of thousands of procedures, including general, urologic, gynecologic, thoracoscopic and thoracoscopically-assisted cardiotomy procedures have been performed using the da Vinci Surgical System. Here at Loma Linda University Medical Center, the surgical system is being used by well trained surgeons in the area of OB/GYN.

Q. Has the da Vinci Surgical System been cleared by the FDA?

A. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has cleared the da Vinci Surgical System for a wide range of procedures. Please see the FDA Clearance page on our web site for specific clearances and representative uses.

Q: Where is the da Vinci Surgical System being used now?

A: The da Vinci Surgical System is being used worldwide in major centers in the United States, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, India, Japan, the Netherlands, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, Australia, and Turkey. There are more than 300 da Vinci Systems in use worldwide.

Q. Is this "robotic surgery"?

A. Although the general term "robotic surgery" is often used to refer to our technology, this term can give the impression that the robot (the da Vinci System) is performing the surgery. In contrast, the da Vinci Surgical System cannot--in any manner--run on its own. Instead, the System is designed to seamlessly replicate the movement of the surgeon's hands with the tips of micro-instruments. The System cannot make decisions, nor can it perform any type of movement or maneuver without the surgeon's direct input.

Q. Will the da Vinci Surgical System make the surgeon unnecessary?

A. Absolutely not. On the contrary, the da Vinci System is designed to help surgeons advance their technique by enhancing their ability to perform complex minimally invasive surgery. The System replicates the surgeon's movements in real time. It cannot be programmed, nor can it make decisions on its own to move the surgical instruments.

Q. Is a surgeon using the da Vinci System operating in "virtual reality"?

A. While he/she is seated at a console a few feet away from the patient, the surgeon views an actual image of the surgical field while operating in real-time, through tiny incisions, using electromechanically enhanced instruments. At no time does the surgeon see a virtual image or program/command the system to perform any maneuver on its own/outside of the surgeon's direct, real-time control.

Q. While using the da Vinci Surgical System, can the surgeon feel anything inside the patient's chest or abdomen?

A. The system relays some force feedback sensations from the operative field back to the surgeon throughout the procedure. This force feedback provides a substitute for tactile sensation. This feedback is augmented by the enhanced vision provided by the high-resolution 3D view.

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