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da Vinci FAQs

da Vinci FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions about da Vinci Surgery at St. Mary's

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Q:  What is Minimally Invasive Surgery (MIS)?

 A:  MIS is surgery typically performed through small incisions, or operating ports, rather than large incisions, resulting in potentially shorter recovery times, fewer complications, reduced hospitalization costs and reduced trauma to the patient.  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.

Q:  What are the benefits of da Vinci Surgery 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 is necessarily both patient- and procedure-specific.

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. 

Q:  Is da Vinci Surgery covered by insurance?

A:  da Vinci Surgery is categorized as robot-assisted minimally invasive surgery, so any insurance that covers minimally invasive surgery generally covers da Vinci Surgery.  This is true for widely held insurance plans like Medicare.  It is important to note that your coverage will depend on your plan and benefits package.  For specifics regarding reimbursement for da Vinci Surgery, or if you have been denied coverage, please call the Reimbursement Hotline at 1-888-868-4647 ext. 3128. 

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

A:  Upon the contrary, the da Vinci System enables surgeons to be more precise, advancing their technique and enhancing their capability in performing 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 in any way or perform any type of surgical maneuver without the surgeon's input.

Q:  Is this tele surgery?  Can you operate over long distances?

A:  The da Vinci Surgical System can theoretically be used to operate over long distances.  This capability, however, is not the primary focus of the company and thus is not available with the current da Vinci Surgical System.

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 and is augmented by the enhanced vision provided by the high-resolution 3D view.

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

A:  The da Vinci System is a robotic surgical platform designed to enable complex procedures of all types to be performed through 1 - 2 cm incisions or operating "ports."  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.

Q:  Why is it called the da Vinci® Surgical System?

A:  The product is called "da Vinci" in part because Leonardo da Vinci invented the first robot.  He 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.

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