Robotic Hernia Surgery

Robotic Hernia Surgery

Robotic surgery is a newer type of surgery that uses small incisions to repair hernias. Robotic surgery has advantages over traditional open surgery in many cases. These advantages can include shorter hospital stays, less pain, faster recovery times and other benefits.

During robotic hernia surgery, the surgeon sits at a console in the operating room and controls the surgical tools from the console. These tools include a small scope, or camera and light, as well as the usual tools a surgeon would normally use for surgery.

Robotic surgery can be used for smaller hernia repairs as well as more complex abdominal wall reconstruction.  The robotic approach allows your surgeon to use similar techniques to open surgery, but take advantage of smaller incisions. 

How are hernias treated?

Hernia repair requires surgery to put the bulging intestine or tissue back inside the abdominal wall, as well as to reconstruct or cover the weak spot in the muscle where the hernia happened. Hernia repair can be performed with open, laparoscopic or robotic surgery.

Open Surgery: A cut is made in the abdomen at the spot where the hernia is located. The tissue is put back in place and the weakened muscle is stitched back together. The surgeon may also use surgical mesh to cover the weak spot in the muscle.

Laparoscopic Surgery: The surgeon makes small cuts, each less than an inch, in the abdomen. The surgeon inserts a thin tube with a light and camera attached to it, called a laparoscope, through one of the incisions. The surgeon uses small surgical tools to repair the hernia.

Robotic Surgery: The surgeon sits at a surgical console in the operating room with the patient. This console has handheld controls, which the surgeon uses during surgery. Small incisions, each under and inch, are made in the abdomen. The surgeon controls the robot to perform surgery, using small surgical tools placed through the tiny cuts in the abdomen.

Which type of surgery is best depends on the person, their hernia, and their overall health. Every patient is different. Surgical plans should be personalized to provide the best outcomes for each individual.

While minimally invasive techniques, including laparoscopic and robotic surgery, often have advantages, there are times when traditional open surgery might be the right approach. Washington University hernia surgeons have the experience and expertise to determine which technique is best for your personalized hernia care.

How are laparoscopic and robotic hernia surgery different?

Both laparoscopic and robotic hernia surgery use small incisions and cameras to perform minimally invasive repairs. Both approaches also typically result in shorter hospital stays, quicker recoveries and smaller scars than traditional open surgery, and they can be less painful.

The main differences between laparoscopic and robotic surgery are wristed motion and three-dimensional imaging.

The arms of the surgical robot have wristed motion, which means they can move at different angles, like a human wrist. This type of precision movement may have some benefits during certain types of surgery.

The camera used in robotic surgery also provides three-dimensional imaging of the inside of the abdomen. This gives your surgeon a 3D view of the area where they are operating. Surgeons are studying whether the wristed motion and 3D images might make robotic surgery a better approach for some patients.

Another difference is that the surgeon sits at a console during robotic surgery, instead of standing at the bedside during laparoscopic surgery.

What are the benefits of robotic hernia surgery?

For many patients, minimally invasive surgery has several advantages over traditional open surgery. Benefits of robotic and laparoscopic surgery include:

  • Smaller incisions
  • Less pain
  • Shorter hospital stays
  • Quicker recovery times
  • Smaller scars

Robotic hernia surgery also makes it easier for your surgeon to see up close to the area of your abdomen where they are operating. The wristed motion of the surgical robot allows your surgeon to sew stiches and place hernia mesh inside the abdomen with precision.  These advantages allow your surgeon to use surgical techniques that traditionally required a large incision to repair your hernia.

Why should I choose a Washington University hernia surgeon?

Hernias are a common medical problem, but it is important to see an expert surgeon for hernia repair.

Fixing a hernia the right way the first time reduces the risk of the hernia coming back later. If a hernia does come back, called recurrence, effectively repairing a recurrent hernia improves the chance of a lasting solution.

Washington University hernia surgeons are all fellowship trained in minimally invasive abdominal wall surgery. This means they have completed advanced training to specialize in the latest surgical techniques for durable hernia repairs. Our team of surgeons has the expertise, experience, and commitment to provide personalized hernia repair and abdominal wall reconstruction to every patient.

Minimally Invasive Surgery

Minimally invasive surgery offers smaller incisions, quicker recovery times and less pain for most patients.