For children, the robot-assisted system is particularly well-suited for complex intra-abdominal procedures and reconstructive urological surgery. About 80% of its use in children is in urology.
Urologic surgeons at Lurie Children’s have performed over 350 robot-assisted minimally invasive surgeries. We use the da Vinci Surgical System for babies as young as six months. Robot-assisted surgery can treat these urologic conditions in children:
The da Vinci robotic system helps surgeons perform complex procedures, usually through three tiny incisions. This means:
Lower risk of infection
The minimally invasive surgery also results in shorter hospital stays and quicker recovery for children compared to open surgery. Children are usually back to all their normal activities within a week.
The robot-assisted minimally invasive approach allows the surgeon to operate with three interactive robotic arms while sitting in a nearby console. The system translates the surgeon's hand movements to the robotic instruments that can move in a tiny surgical area with more precision and greater range of motion than the human wrist.
One of the robot's arms holds a camera that is lowered through a small incision and lets the surgeon see inside the body in high definition 3D images. The system provides up to 10 times magnification, allowing the surgeon to see small structures even more clearly than in open surgery.
Dr. Lindgren performed the first da Vinci assisted laparoscopic pediatric urological procedure in the greater Chicago area in 2006. In 2009, Lindgren and another urologist at Lurie Children's (formerly Children's Memorial Hospital) published the first report of pediatric robot-assisted minimally invasive surgery for removing a bladder diverticulum (a sac on the bladder that can cause serious problems). The group has published multiple subsequent papers related to robotic surgery in children, and have several additional research studies ongoing.
Beyond the Robot
Our urological surgeons are specially trained in advanced minimally invasive techniques that can be used for a range of procedures. In addition to robotic surgery, Lurie Children’s also offers more options for minimally invasive surgery, including:
Laparscopic surgery – procedures through small incisions to treat testicle and kidney problems
Endoscopic surgery – using small telescopes inside the urinary tract to treat problems such as kidney stones and urinary blockages