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Robotics Revolutionize Surgery

In more than 20 years as a physician specializing in urology at Riverside Medical Clinic, I have never been more excited about my practice than I am today.  This is attributable to a revolutionary new technology that allows me as a surgeon to offer my patients diagnosed with prostate cancer a treatment which has the potential, when compared to standard prostate cancer surgery, to greatly reduce pain, blood loss and complications.  At the same time, we are improving outcomes, shortening hospital stays and allowing patients to more quickly resume a normal life style.

The robotic technology, called the da Vinci Surgical System, is a tremendous advance in the area of minimally invasive surgery.  It allows the surgeon to work within a confined space in the body without the need to make a large and painful incision.  The advanced optics within the system provide three-dimensional vision plus magnification while the robotic arms under the control of the surgeon manipulate miniature instruments with all the precision and flexibility of the human hand.

Better outcomes

Best of all, studies show robotic surgery, when performed by a highly trained surgical team, can achieve excellent results comparable to and often exceeding those seen in open surgery.  In a standard open radical prostatectomy, an eight-inch incision is made in the lower abdomen which often requires up to three months to heal.

In comparison, the robotic surgery is done through multiple small one-inch incisions which in most cases allow the patient to resume normal activity as early as six weeks.  Greater precision and accuracy also help to reduce the risk of potential complications such as bleeding, urinary incontinence and erectile dysfunction.

Over the past two years, my colleagues at Riverside Medical Clinic, Drs. Winston Richards and Benjamin Yang and myself have been employing this da Vinci Surgical System with remarkable results for the benefit of our patients. In most cases, hospital stays have been dramatically reduced and it is not unusual to have patients go home the day after surgery with little or no pain.

Robot in action

The da Vinci Surgical System consists of a surgeon’s console, the robot with four controllable arms, one of which is equipped with a specialized surgical telescope called a laparoscope, and a separate stand containing electronics that control the lighting, image balancing and the special gas used to distend the abdominal cavity.

At the beginning of the surgery, a surgeon at the bedside places a hollow needle into the abdominal cavity.  Through this needle a gas is used to distend the abdomen and provide working space between the abdominal wall and organs.  Next, five to six plastic or metal tubes called trocars are strategically placed through the abdominal wall using small, one-inch or smaller incisions at various locations.  These trocars act as channels through which the telescope and working arms of the robot will enter the abdomen.

When performing the surgery to remove a cancerous prostate, the surgeon is seated at the console where he controls the actions of the robot.  Robots used in the manufacturing industries rely on computerized commands.  In contrast, the da Vinci robot is an active extension of the surgeon’s eyes and hands, moving and responding to his commands.

Unlike a television monitor which can only show images in two dimensions, the surgeon using the da Vinci System can see into the body in three dimensions, just as if he were looking in through an open incision.  The system also allows the image to be magnified up to 12 times, providing remarkable detail.

Once the surgery begins, the surgeon can utilize instruments on the robot’s arms with the same dexterity as if he were holding them in his hands.  This is possible due to the robot’s ability to mimic the action of the human wrist.  By using this technology, the surgeon is able to operate in small and confined areas with remarkable precision.

Dramatic results

These dramatic advancements in minimally invasive surgical technology mean have provided our patients an alternative to conventional open surgery with the potential of a better outcome, fewer complications and a quicker return to their normal life styles.

To view a video of this surgery, or to obtain more information, you are welcome to access our website at

Dr. Alex Batta has been a practicing urologist at Riverside Medical Clinic for more than 20 years.  He received his specialty training in urology at the Mayo Clinic. He is an an active member in the American Urological Association, American Medical Association and the Riverside County Medical Association.  He can be reached at his clinic office at (951) 782-3671.

Dr. Winston Richards, Dr. Benjamin Yang and Dr. Alex Batta were the first urologists in Riverside County to be recognized by Intuitive Surgical, the manufacturer of the da Vinci Surgical System, as being certified and trained in this technology.

Riverside Medical Clinic is the largest private provider of ambulatory care in the Inland Empire.  If you’d like to find a general physician or a specialist, call the clinic’s physician referral line at (951) 782-3602  or go to  HYPERLINK “” ; for an online physician directory by location and specialty.

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