RAL Colorectal Surgery: 8 Common Questions Answered - Houston Colon – Division of Colon and Rectal Surgery

RAL Colorectal Surgery: 8 Common Questions Answered

March 7, 2011

Robotic-assisted laparoscopic surgery or RAL may sound as if it came from a science fiction novel, but it is very much a reality in the realm of minimally invasive surgical techniques. RAL surgery in Houston is performed by a group of colorectal specialists who are not only highly skilled in laparoscopy, but in robotic-assisted techniques as well. The following are answers to some of the most common questions asked regarding these state-of-the-art procedures.

What is laparoscopy?

Laparoscopy is a surgical procedure that is termed, minimally invasive or MIS because it only requires one or a few very small incisions in order to gain entry into the body. This is made possible by technological advances in cameras that can be transported into the body through tubular ports. The camera transmits images to a monitor that Houston colorectal surgeons use as their eyes while performing the surgery.

What are the advantages of laparoscopy?

One of the foremost advantages of this procedure is its minimally invasive nature. There is a major reduction in surgical trauma to the body which leads to a lessening of pain, as well as recovery time.  The chances for infection are also substantially reduced.

What is robotic-assisted laparoscopic surgery?

This MIS employs laparoscopic techniques in conjunction with advanced robotic technology. The robotic system affords the surgeon even greater degrees of precision and visualization than normal laparoscopy.  This is particularly beneficial when working within the very tight pelvic region of the digestive tract and pelvic floor.

How does the Houston RAL surgery work?

The da Vinci™ robotic system consists of a computer that provides a 3-D image of the operating area, operating controls connected to two robotic arms that are holding highly specialized surgical instruments.  The robotic arms and a miniature video camera are inserted into the abdomen via one of three half inch incisions. The arms can replicate even the most delicate hand movements in smaller abdominal spaces than a human hand would allow.

What are the patient benefits of RAL?

The benefits are similar to that of laparoscopic procedures in that physical trauma, infection and recovery time are majorly reduced. Due to the precision that is achieved through this system, very often the clinical outcomes are more pronounced in that the function or control of an area being operated on is preserved.

Is RAL used to treat disorders and cancers in the colon and rectal areas?

RAL is particularly well-suited to treating these areas because there are so many nerve endings and blood vessels in these areas that if impacted during surgery, could seriously diminish the quality of life of the patient.

How long has RAL been in use?

Researchers at Johns Hopkins University were the first to develop a prototype in 1995. Only a few years later it was employed during a gall bladder surgery.  Over 80,000 RAL procedures were reported in 2008 alone.  Some highly trained colon doctors have performed over 2,000 laparoscopic and 750 robotic-assisted MIS procedures.

Has RAL been federally approved?

Yes, approval from the Federal Food and Drug Administration or FDA has been granted to Intuitive Surgical, the manufacturer of the da Vinci™ robotic system.

It is recommended that the choice of any medical protocol is best determined through a comprehensive dialogue between patient and physician.
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Houston residents who are experiencing problems with the colon or rectal areas can anticipate optimal outcomes as a result of consulting colorectal surgeons who offer a wide range of state-of-the-art diagnostic, therapeutic and surgical modalities including laparoscopy and robotic-assisted laparoscopy MIS procedures.   The Houston Colorectal Surgical Associates is a team of specialists on the leading edge of the diagnosis and treatment of disorders of the colon and rectum.