The da Vinci® Surgical System FAQs

Q. What is minimally invasive surgery (MIS)?

A. Minimally invasive surgery, also called laparoscopy or laparoscopic surgery, is used on patients diagnosed with many different conditions. During minimally invasive surgery, surgeons operate through one or more small incisions, depending on the type of surgery. The da Vinci® Surgical System is a form of laparoscopic surgery that enables surgeons to operate using a 3D HD vision system and tiny instruments that bend and rotate far greater than the human hand. As a result of this technology, da Vinci enables surgeons to operate with enhanced vision, precision and control.


Q. Why do we need a new way to do minimally invasive surgery?

A. Despite the widespread use of minimally invasive or laparoscopic surgery in today's hospitals, adoption of laparoscopic techniques, for the most part, has been limited to a few routine procedures. This is due mostly to the limited capabilities of traditional laparoscopic technology, including standard video and rigid instruments, which surgeons must rely on to operate through small incisions.

In traditional open surgery, the physician makes a long incision and then widens it to access the anatomy. In traditional minimally invasive surgery – which is widely used for routine procedures -- the surgeon operates using rigid, hand-operated instruments, which are passed through small incisions and views the anatomy on a standard video monitor. Neither this laparoscopic instrumentation nor the video monitor can provide the surgeon with the excellent visualization needed to perform complex surgery like valve repair or nerve-sparing prostatectomy.


Q. What are the benefits of da Vinci Surgery compared with traditional methods of surgery?

A. Some of the major benefits experienced by surgeons using the da Vinci Surgical System over traditional approaches have been greater surgical precision, increased range of motion, improved dexterity, enhanced visualization and improved access. da Vinci Surgical System offers many potential benefits to patients facing surgery. To learn more about the benefits of specific da Vinci procedures, go to www.davinciSurgery.com. Since surgery is unique to each patient and procedure, benefits cannot be guaranteed.


Q. Why is it called the da Vinci Surgical System?

A. The product is called "da Vinci" in part because Leonardo da Vinci invented the first robot. He also used unparalleled anatomical accuracy and three-dimensional details to bring his masterpieces to life. The da Vinci Surgical System similarly provides physicians with such enhanced detail and precision that the System can simulate an open surgical environment while allowing operation through tiny incisions. The da Vinci Surgical System enables surgeons to operate minimally invasively through a few small incisions or the belly button, similar to traditional laparoscopy. Using the da Vinci System, surgeons sit at a nearby ergonomic console. da Vinci features a magnified 3D HD vision system and tiny wristed instruments that bend and rotate far greater than the human hand. As a result of this technology, da Vinci enables surgeons to operate with enhanced vision, precision and control.


Q. Where is the da Vinci Surgical System being used now?

A. The da Vinci Surgical System is used in major centers in the United States, France, Italy, Germany and Spain, as well as in many other countries around the world. To locate a hospital or surgeon, go to: http://www.davincisurgeonlocator.com/


Q. Has the da Vinci Surgical System been cleared by the FDA?

A. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has cleared the da Vinci Surgical System for use in a wide range of procedures. For additional information, please see Indications for Use. http://www.intuitivesurgical.com/company/indications-for-use.html


Q. Is da Vinci Surgery covered by insurance?

A. da Vinci Surgery is categorized as robot-assisted minimally invasive surgery, so any insurance that covers minimally invasive surgery generally covers da Vinci Surgery. This is true for widely held insurance plans like Medicare. It is important to note that your coverage will depend on your plan and benefits package.


Q. Will the da Vinci Surgical System make the surgeon unnecessary?

A. On the contrary, the da Vinci System is designed to enable surgeons to operate with enhanced vision, precision and control. The da Vinci System translates the surgeon's hand movements into smaller, precise movements of the miniaturized instruments inside the patient's body. The da Vinci System is 100% controlled by the surgeon and can never be programmed to make surgical maneuvers on its own.


Q. Is a surgeon using the da Vinci Surgical System operating in "virtual reality"?

A. No. Although seated at a console a few feet from the patient, the surgeon views an actual image inside the patient’s body while operating in real-time. At no time does the surgeon see a virtual image, or program the system to perform any independent maneuvers outside of the surgeon's direct, real-time control.


Q. Is this "robotic surgery"?

A. Robotic surgical devices are designed to perform entirely independent movements after being programmed by a surgeon. The da Vinci Surgical System is a computer-enhanced system that introduces a computer interface and 3DHD vision system between the surgeon's eyes, hands and the tips of micro-instruments. The system mimics the surgeon's hand movements in real time. It cannot be programmed, nor can it make decisions on its own to move or perform any type of surgical maneuver. So, while the general term "robotic surgery" is often used to refer to our technology, it is not robotic surgery in the strictest sense of the term.


Q. While using the da Vinci Surgical System, can the surgeon feel anything inside the patient's chest or abdomen?

A. Motors on the system move the robotic arms and instruments in response to the surgeon’s hand movements on the controls. As a result, the surgeon receives or feels subtle physical “feedback” while holding the controls. This feedback provides a substitute for the actual sense of touch and is augmented by the enhanced vision provided by the high definition 3D view. While surgeons are not able to touch or feel the anatomy as in open surgery, they indicate that the visualization, precision, dexterity and control that da Vinci offers them during surgery more than compensates for the loss of touch.


Q. what procedures have been performed using the da Vinci Surgical System?

A. da Vinci surgical procedures are routinely performed in the specialties of: general, urologic, gynecologic, transoral, cardiac, thoracic, and pediatric surgery. da Vinci® Single-Site™ technology enables surgeons to remove the gallbladder and uterus through one small incision in the belly button. Over the last decade, the da Vinci System has brought minimally invasive surgery to over 2 million patients worldwide.


Q. Are there studies showing that da Vinci Surgery is better than traditional open surgery?

A. Since 1998, more than 7,000 peer-reviewed publications have appeared in various clinical journals on da Vinci Surgery. The amount of clinical evidence on the da Vinci System is increasing at a rate of 100 publications per month.

Important Safety Information

Serious complications may occur in any surgery, including da Vinci® Surgery, up to and including death. Individual surgical results may vary. Patients should talk to their doctor to decide if da Vinci Surgery is right for them. Patients and doctors should review all available information on non-surgical and surgical options in order to make an informed decision. Please also refer to daVinciSurgery.com/Safety for Important Safety Information.

© 2017 Intuitive Surgical, Inc. All rights reserved. Product names are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective holders. The information on this website is intended for a United States audience only.

da Vinci Si surgeon console
© 2017 Intuitive Surgical, Inc.
Surgeon console: the doctor controls the surgical instruments from this console.



da Vinci Si patient cart
© 2017 Intuitive Surgical, Inc.
Patient side cart: this contains the surgical instruments which are used during surgery.



da Vinci EndoWrist tip size compared with pencil eraser
© 2017 Intuitive Surgical, Inc.
Comparing the instrument tip size with a pencil eraser.



da Vinci EndoWrist tip size compared with doctor's hand
© 2017 Intuitive Surgical, Inc.
Comparing the instrument tip size with a doctor's hand.



da Vinci EndoWrist tip size compared with U.S. penny coin
© 2017 Intuitive Surgical, Inc.
Comparing the instrument tip size with a penny.



da Vinci EndoWrist variety of tips
© 2017 Intuitive Surgical, Inc.
Surgeons have a variety of instrument tips which can be used with the da Vinci® Surgical System.