Robotic Colon and Rectal Surgery

The colon and rectal surgery team at UW Health offer robotic surgery for treatment of rectal cancer


Advantages of Robotic Surgery


Robot-assisted surgery can extend the indications for minimally invasive surgery as it provides distinct advantages for working deep in the pelvis, where rectal cancers are located. While not for every patient, minimally invasive surgery for rectal cancer does offer clear benefits.

  • Shorter hospital stay. We have found that hospital length of stay is almost two days shorter on average for patients who have undergone a minimally invasive operation for rectal cancer.
  • Fewer infections. While the rate of skin infection after colon and rectal surgery is real, we have found that a minimally invasive approach decreases that risk by approximately 50 percent.
  • Less blood loss and fewer transfusions. We have found that patients undergoing a minimally invasive operation have approximately 50 percent less blood loss and receive fewer transfusions. 
  • Higher lymph node retrieval rate. An important part of a good cancer operation involved a thorough lymph node dissection. In our series of rectal cancer patients, those who had minimally invasive surgery for rectal cancer had on average 13 lymph nodes examined compared to only nine in those patients undergoing open surgery. A more thorough lymph node evaluation likely leads to more accurate diagnosis and more appropriate use of chemotherapy after the operation.