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Home > Cancers We Treat > Urologic Cancer > Robot-Assisted Urologic Procedures

Robot-Assisted Urologic Procedures

Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

A doctor guides robotic arms to do urologic surgery. This is done through several tiny keyhole incisions. 

Examples of urologic surgeries that have been successfully done using this technique include:

  • Prostatectomy — to remove part or all of a prostate gland found to contain prostate cancer
  • Pyeloplasty — to repair an abnormality of the kidney and nearby ureter, which is a tube that leads from the kidney to the bladder
  • Cystectomy — to remove all or part of the bladder to treat bladder cancer
  • Nephrectomy — to remove all or part of the kidney because of kidney cancer, kidney stones, or kidney disease
  • Ureteral reimplantation — to disconnect and reinsert the ureter from the bladder to keep urine from flowing backwards from the bladder into the kidneys
  • Procedures requiring fine dissection and suturing such as reconnection of the ureter

Compared to more traditional procedures, robotic-assisted surgery may result in:

  • Less scarring
  • Reduced recovery times
  • Less risk of infection
  • Less blood loss
  • Reduced trauma to the body
  • Shorter hospital stay
  • Faster recovery


Complications are rare, but no procedure is completely free of risk. If you are planning to have a robot-assisted urologic procedure, your doctor will review a list of possible complications, which may include:

  • Damage to nearby organs or structures
  • Infection
  • Bleeding
  • Anesthesia-related problems
  • The need to switch to traditional surgical methods such as traditional laparoscopic or open surgery

Some factors that may increase the risk of complications include:

  • Pre-existing heart or lung condition
  • Increased age
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • Excessive alcohol intake
  • Use of certain medications

Be sure to discuss these risks with your doctor before the procedure.

About the Procedure

Prior to Procedure

Depending on the reason for your surgery, your doctor may do the following:

  • Physical exam
  • Blood tests and urine tests
  • Electrocardiogram (ECG, EKG)
  • Intravenous pyelogram (IVP)
  • Retrograde pyelogram
  • Kidneys, ureter, bladder (KUB)
  • Ultrasound
  • CT scan
  • MRI scan
  • Cystoscopy

Description of the Procedure

Several small keyhole incisions will be made in the abdomen. Carbon dioxide gas will be passed into the area. This will make it easier for internal structures to be viewed. A small camera, called an endoscope will be passed through one of the incisions. The camera will light, magnify, and project the structures onto a video screen. The camera will be attached to one of the robotic arms. The other arms will hold instruments for grasping, cutting, dissecting, and suturing; for example:

    • Forceps
    • Scissors
    • Dissectors
    • Scalpels

Research and Advanced Treatment

We have strong research efforts focused on finding the causes of prostate and bladder cancers, which can help with diagnosis and treatment. We’ve also identified a drug that dramatically reduces the spread of bladder cancer to the lungs.

Leading-Edge Care

UVA was one of the first hospitals to use the less invasive brachytherapy radiation approach, where “seeds” of radiation are implanted to treat prostate cancer. We were also one of the first hospitals in Virginia to use the da Vinci robotic surgical system for bladder cancer.

Our treatment options also include a less invasive surgery technique that destroys prostate or kidney tissue by freezing. Doctors use a needle to locate and freeze the cancer without a lot of damage to surrounding tissue.

Content was created using EBSCO’s Health Library. Edits to original content made by Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia. This information is not a substitute for professional medical advice.