If you’ve learned you need surgery on your kidneys, digestive tract, reproductive system, lungs or another organ, robotic-assisted surgery may be an option. Although “robotic” is in the title, a robot isn’t performing your surgery. It’s your surgeon who performs and controls the surgery. Robotic-assisted surgery is minimally invasive surgery performed by surgeons using the da Vinci® surgical system.

The da Vinci system allows surgeons to perform a wide range of surgeries through a few small cuts (incisions). Because the surgeon makes only small cuts, robotic-assisted surgery is minimally invasive. Minimally invasive surgery is an alternative to traditional open surgery, where the surgeon makes a cut large enough to look inside your body and operate. The da Vinci system makes it possible for your surgeon to operate through incisions that are about the size of a dime.

How It’s Done

From a console, your surgeon uses his or her hands to control a camera and surgical instruments to perform the procedure. The da Vinci camera and vision system deliver 3D high-definition views, giving your surgeon a crystal clear view of the surgical area that is magnified 10 times to what the human eye sees. During surgery, the da Vinci system translates your doctor’s hand movements in real time. The tiny instruments move like a human hand but with an even greater range of motion, bending and rotating with smooth precision.

Since it was introduced in 1999, surgeons have used the da Vinci system to perform over 7 million surgeries in all 50 U.S. states and 67 countries around the world. 1

Watch the Video

Expand your understanding of what robotic-assisted surgery is and what to expect the day of surgery.

Da Vinci System Components

The da Vinci system is made up of three parts:

Surgeon console: The surgeon sits at the console, controlling the instruments while viewing your anatomy in magnified high-definition 3D.

Patient cart: Positioned alongside the patient bed, the patient cart holds the camera and instruments your surgeon controls from the console.

Vision cart: The vision cart manages the communication between all the system components and provides a screen for the care team to view the operation.

Questions for Your Doctor

If you and your doctor are discussing surgery, here are some questions you can ask:

  • What medical and surgical options are available for me?
  • Which is best for my situation?
  • What are the differences between open, laparoscopic, and robotic-assisted surgery?
  • If I’m a candidate for robotic-assisted surgery, how can I prepare for it?
  • Can you tell me about your training and experience?
  • What is your experience with robotic-assisted surgery?

Also talk with your surgeon about the surgical outcomes he or she delivers using the da Vinci system, as every surgeon's experience is different. For example, ask about:

  • Length of hospital stay
  • Complication rate
  • Rate of returning to the hospital within 30 days of surgery
  • Reoperation rate
  • Transfusion and/or blood loss
  • Chance of changing to an open procedure
  • Length of operation
  • Mortality rate

Surgeries Performed with da Vinci Technology

The da Vinci system is cleared by applicable regulatory agencies for use in many different types of surgery, including urology, gynecology, and general surgery procedures. You may be interested in reading more about the following procedures:

Learn more

For more information about the da Vinci surgical system and surgeries that surgeons can perform with it, visit davincisurgery.com. You can also use the surgeon locator to find a doctor who performs robotic-assisted surgery near you.

surgeon locator


  1. Intuitive internal data.

Important Safety Information

Patients should talk to their doctor to decide if robotic-assisted surgery using the da Vinci surgical system is right for them. Patients and doctors should review all available information on non-surgical and surgical options and associated risks in order to make an informed decision.

Serious complications may occur in any surgery, including surgery using the da Vinci system, up to and including death. Serious risks include, but are not limited to, injury to tissues and organs and conversion to other surgical techniques which could result in a longer operative time and/or increased complications. For Important Safety Information, including surgical risks, indications, and considerations and contraindications for use, please also refer to www.intuitive.com/safety.

Individuals’ outcomes may depend on a number of factors, including but not limited to patient characteristics, disease characteristics and/or surgeon experience.

© 2021 Intuitive Surgical, Inc. All rights reserved. Product and brand names/logos are trademarks or registered trademarks of Intuitive Surgical or their respective owner. See www.intuitive.com/trademarks.

PN 1073181 Rev B 4/2021

WebMD does not endorse any specific product, service, or treatment.