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Overcoming technical challenges with robotic surgery in gynecologic oncology

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The majority of data published on robotic surgery in gynecologic oncology has focused on patient outcomes and surgical data. We have found that technical challenges due to the complexity of the robotic technology create a separate set of issues, adding time and difficulty to the actual surgical procedure. This study focuses on these technical problems and identifies pitfalls and potential solutions in robotics.


All patients who underwent robotic surgery for gynecologic oncology indications from August 2006 through July 2008 were eligible for inclusion in the study. Data collected prospectively included demographics, surgical and clinicopathologic data, and technical problems with the robotic equipment.


One hundred thirty-seven patients underwent robotic surgery during the study period. A total of 11 cases (8.02%) were associated with problems with robotic technology: 2/11 (18.2%) involved malfunction of robotic arms, 2/11 (18.2%) involved light or camera cords, and the remainder included a variety of problems, including malfunction of Maylard bipolar instrument [1/11 (9.1%)], power failure requiring reboot of robot [1/11 (9.1%)], port problems [2/11 (18.2%)], and 3/1 (27.3%) had miscellaneous problems. An estimated average of 25 min was added to each of these 11 cases in order to solve robot-related technological problems. No cases required conversion to laparotomy. All problems were solved by the robotic surgeon with the assistance of robotic surgery staff.


Surgeons performing robotic surgery must become familiar with troubleshooting robotic technology. Several issues related to technical problems may arise, delaying progression of the case, and potential solutions were identified. As this technology is implemented, robotic surgeons must be trained to solve problems related to the robotic technology and associated equipment. Failure to do so may add time and technical difficulty to robotic cases.

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Dr. Michael A. Finan and Dr. Rodney P. Rocconi serve as proctors for robotic surgery for Intuitive Surgical Inc. They both receive professional consulting fees for proctoring surgical cases. These fees do not present a conflict of interest or financial ties to disclose with regard to this article.

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Correspondence to Michael A. Finan.

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Finan, M.A., Rocconi, R.P. Overcoming technical challenges with robotic surgery in gynecologic oncology. Surg Endosc 24, 1256–1260 (2010).

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