Robotic Surgery

Robotic Colon & Rectal Surgery

You have been diagnosed with colon cancer or rectal cancer, diverticulitis, Crohn’s disease or another colorectal issue requiring surgery. You are scheduling multiple doctors’ appointments, getting blood tests, X-rays, and you feel scared, confused and overwhelmed by the diagnosis and treatment options. You will be meeting with a surgeon and may have many questions:  how long will it take to recover? How much pain is involved? What are the complications?  Are there any options regarding the type of surgery?  When it comes to planning for surgery for colon cancer, rectal cancer, diverticulitis, Crohn’s disease, or other colorectal conditions, there are a few options your surgeon may discuss with you. So what are the differences between open surgery, laparoscopic surgery, and robotic surgery? 

For over 100 years, open surgery – the traditional type of surgery in which an incision is made using a scalpel – has been performed for colon and rectal procedures. It requires an incision down the middle of the abdomen and often involves longer post-surgical recovery time.

Laparoscopic surgery (minimally invasive surgery) has been used to perform colon and rectal surgery for two decades, enabling many patients to have smaller incisions, less post-operative pain and shorter hospital stays.  Due to the limitations of laparoscopic technology, a significant number of patients may still require traditional open surgery to manage their condition (mentioned above). 

Robotic surgery was developed to overcome many of the limitations of laparoscopic surgery. Robotic surgery offers superior visualization of the treatment area and more precise instrumentation compared to laparoscopic surgery. This surgical modality is minimally invasive and is available to a broader spectrum of patients, including those with more complex colon and rectal disorders. 

Instead of 20% or 30% of patients receiving minimally invasive colon and rectal surgery with laparoscopy, robotic technology allows our surgeons to provide minimally invasive surgery to more than 60% of patients with similar gastrointestinal conditions. By avoiding more invasive open surgery, patients may benefit from decreased pain, shorter hospital stays (typically 3 to 5 days), quicker recovery at home (usually 1 to 2 weeks), and lower incidence of postoperative complications including wound infection, hernia, and need for blood transfusion. 

At Emory, the Division of Colon and Rectal Surgery has expert surgeons who are recognized leaders in the management of colon and rectal cancer, diverticulitis and inflammatory bowel disease using robotic surgery.  With a combined experience of more than 600 procedures, our surgeons have one of the largest volumes of robotic colon and rectal surgery in the world.  Equally important to “large numbers” is our focus and dedication to quality and safety for our patients. The Emory Robotic Surgery Program continuously tracks and reports outcomes, allowing our team to routinely re-evaluate techniques and protocols, always striving for the absolute best in patient care.

Conditions treated with robotic surgery include:

  • Inflammatory bowel disease including Crohn’s disease and Ulcerative Colitis
  • Colon cancer or polyps
  • Rectal cancer or polyps
  • Diverticulitis
  • Endometriosis involving the colon or rectum
  • Rectal prolapse
  • Fistula involving the colon and rectum
  • Benign colon stricture

Robotic Surgery Program Highlights:

  1. Designated Center of Excellence for Robotic Colon and Rectal Surgery
  2. Leaders in Robotic Colon and Rectal Surgery who have trained over 100 surgeons, and lectured nationally and internationally
  3. Ability to provide comprehensive cancer care with multi-specialty robotic surgery (combined surgery with colleagues from urology, gynecology, general surgery and surgical oncology who are also experts in robotic surgery)