Robot-Assisted Endoscopic Surgery: a four-year single-center experience

J.P. Ruurda, W.A. Draaisma, R. van Hillegersberg, I.H.M. Borel Rinkes, H.G. Gooszen, L.W.M. Janssen, R.K.J. Simmermacher, I.A.M.J. Broeders

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


BACKGROUND: Robotic systems were introduced in the late 1990s with the objective to overcome the technical limitations of endoscopic surgery. In this prospective cohort study the potential safety, feasibility, pitfalls and challenges of robotic systems in gastrointestinal endoscopic surgery are assessed and our vision on future perspectives is presented.

METHODS: Between August 2000 and December 2004, 208 procedures were performed with support of the Intuitive Surgical da Vincitrade mark robotic system. We started with cholecystectomies (40) and Nissen fundoplications (41) to gain experience with robot-assisted surgery. In the following years more complex procedures were carried out, i.e. colorectal procedures (7), type III/IV paraesophageal hernia repair (32), redo Nissen fundoplications (9), Heller myotomies (24), esophageal resections (22), rectopexies (16) and aortobifemoral bypasses (3).

RESULTS: The median robotic set-up time was 13 min, and 7 min in the last 50 procedures. The median operating time for the total of procedures was 120 min (45-420) and the median blood loss was 30 ml (0-800). Fourteen procedures were converted to open surgery (6.7%). Equipment-related problems, such as start-up failures and positioning difficulties of the robotic arms, were encountered in 11 cases (5.3%). Postoperative complications were seen in 11 patients (11/176, 6.3%) after robot-assisted laparoscopic procedures. Pulmonary complications occurred in 11 patients, cardiac in 3, anastomic leakage in 3, chylous leakage in 3 and vocal cord paralysis in 3 after thoracoscopic esophagolymphadenectomy for esophageal cancer. One patient died 12 days after esophageal resection (0.5%).

CONCLUSION: During the implementation of this robotic system, we experienced an obvious learning curve, particularly with regard to the positioning of the robot cart and communication between the surgeon and operating team. After 4 years, we have experienced that the merits of the current generation of this technology probably is preserved to complex endoscopic procedures with delicate dissection and suturing. In the nearby future we will focus on the treatment of motility disorders and malignancies of the esophagus and stomach. The position of the robot in the endoscopic operating room will have to be clarified by the outcome of prospective research. Furthermore, priorities have to be acclaimed on technical sophistication and cost reduction of these systems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)313-320
Number of pages8
JournalDigestive Surgery
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2005


  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Clinical Competence
  • Endoscopy, Gastrointestinal
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Robotics
  • Treatment Outcome


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