Robotic Surgery for Gynaecological Cancer: Conditions, Complications, and Treatment

By Dr. Surender Kumar Dabas in Gynaecologic Cancer Programme

Oct 17 , 2023 | 7 min read

Robotic surgery has revolutionised the treatment of gynaecological cancers by offering an innovative and precise approach. This advanced technique utilises robotic-assisted technology, where a skilled surgeon controls robotic arms to perform intricate manoeuvers with enhanced precision and visualisation. According to a study, the overall mortality rate for robotic surgery is 0.097% in patients as compared to 0.92% in traditional surgery.

Gynaecological cancers, including those affecting the ovaries, cervix, uterus, vagina and vulva, pose unique challenges due to their complex structures. Robotic surgery allows surgeons to navigate these complexities with greater ease and accuracy.

By employing small incisions and robotic instruments, robotic surgery minimises blood loss, postoperative pain and recovery time compared to traditional open surgery. It also offers improved cosmetic outcomes with minimal scarring.

How Robotic Surgery Works?

Robotic surgery in gynaecological cancer works by employing a robotic-assisted system consisting of robotic arms and instruments controlled by a surgeon. The surgeon sits at a console and operates the robotic arms, which are equipped with small surgical instruments. These instruments are inserted through small incisions in the patient's body, allowing the surgeon to navigate and perform precise manoeuvers with enhanced dexterity. The robotic system provides a three-dimensional, high-definition view of the surgical site, enabling the surgeon to visualise and manipulate tissues with greater accuracy. The advanced technology and instruments used in robotic surgery enhance surgical precision, control and visualisation, resulting in improved outcomes for patients with gynaecological cancers. 

Types of Gynaecological Cancers

Gynaecological cancers encompass a range of malignancies that affect the female reproductive system. Common types include:

 Each of these cancers originates in specific anatomical locations and may exhibit distinct symptoms and treatment requirements.

Role of Robotic Surgery in Cervical Cancer

Robotic radical hysterectomies can effectively treat early-stage cervical cancer in patients. It has been established that robotic radical hysterectomy provides an advantage over other traditional surgical approaches in terms of operative time, blood loss, infection and hospital stay. However, there are some limitations which include high cost, the need for specially trained surgeons and the availability of centres that can afford this technology.

Role of Robotic Surgery in Endometrial Cancer

Robotic surgery has been proven to be highly effective in treating endometrial cancer in patients. It causes less blood loss, shorter hospital stays and fewer postoperative complications compared to laparotomies. It has been observed that its advantages over the laparoscopic technique are most pronounced in old and obese patients. This surgery has also been beneficial in terms of lymph node dissection, which examines the pelvic and para-aortic lymph nodes for endometrial cancer cells. 

Role of Robotic Surgery in Ovarian Cancer

Robotic-assisted surgery has shown promise as a safe and feasible alternative for selected patients, particularly for interval cytoreductive procedures. The specific surgical approach depends on individual patient factors and surgeon expertise. A thorough consultation with healthcare professionals is crucial for determining the optimal surgical approach in ovarian cancer cases.

Advantages of Robotic Surgery

Robotic surgeries offer numerous benefits in the treatment of various conditions, including gynaecological cancers. These advanced surgical procedures provide patients with

  • Reduced pain 
  • Minimal blood loss 
  • Shorter hospital stays 
  • Lower risk of complications
  • Faster recovery

 These advantages contribute to improved clinical outcomes, higher survival rates, and a better quality of life for patients during and after treatment.

Robotic Surgery for Gynaecological Cancer Conditions

Robotic surgery has emerged as a groundbreaking approach in the treatment of gynaecological cancers. It offers a minimally invasive alternative for conditions such as:


Endometriosis is a condition where tissues lining the uterus grow outside the uterus, often causing severe pain. Robotic surgery is a safe and effective technique for endometriosis patients. It allows surgeons to precisely remove endometrial tissue, resulting in less scarring, reduced pain and improved outcomes compared to regular laparoscopy.

Abdominal Pain And Pelvic Pain

Abdominal and pelvic pain can also be symptoms of gynaecological cancers, such as ovarian cancer and uterine cancer. These conditions require specialised treatment, and robotic surgery has emerged as an effective approach. By utilising robotic-assisted technology, surgeons can perform precise and targeted procedures to address gynaecological cancers, alleviating pain and improving outcomes for patients.

Uterine Fibroids

Robotic surgery, specifically robotic myomectomy (a type of laparoscopic myomectomy) is often used by surgeons to remove uterine fibroids. With robotic myomectomy, one may experience less blood loss, fewer complications, a shorter hospital stay and a faster return to everyday activities.

Gynaecological Cancer

Robotic surgery is highly effective in treating advanced gynaecological cancers. Procedures like oophorectomy, hysterectomy, lymphadenectomy and radical hysterectomy can be performed with precision. However, individual factors and cancer stage determine the specific treatment approach.

Robotic Surgery for Gynaecological Cancer Complications

Robot-assisted surgery is usually safe and the incidence of complications is low. However, complications may arise directly or indirectly related to the robotic system. The causes of complications are careless handling of instruments, insulation failure, lack of communication between doctors and inadequate uterine elevation resulting in organ damage. 

Surgical Complications

Surgical complications can be broadly classified into two groups:

  1. Intraoperative Complications: Ureteric damage, bladder damage, vascular damage etc.
  2. Postoperative Complications: This group can be further divided into three subgroups:
    • Immediate: Haemorrhage, nausea, vomiting etc
    • Intermediate: Infection, haematomas etc
    • Late: Incisional hernia, bowel obstruction etc

Instrument Or System Malfunctions

Robotic surgery has experienced rapid growth in the surgical field since its approval. In clinical practice, failure of robotic surgery occurs due to a surgeon’s fault or device malfunction. Device malfunctions are rare occasions. Data represents that only 20.9% of surgical complications arise due to malfunction of robotic surgery arms and instruments.

Surgeon Learning Curve

During the process of learning a new surgical procedure, surgeons typically enhance their performance and skills through experience and practice. This improvement can be represented by a learning curve when plotting performance against experience. Studies on robotic surgeries indicate that surgeons generally reach a point of proficiency, or complete their learning curve, after approximately two years or after completing 12-15 surgical cases. As surgeons gain more experience, they become more efficient, leading to reduced length of hospital stays for patients.

Pneumoperitoneum-Related Issues

Pneumoperitoneum is the presence of gas or air in the peritoneal or abdominal cavity. Pneumoperitoneum-related complications in robotic surgery include subcutaneous emphysema, pneumothorax and hypercarbia. The complication rate is nearly 2.3% for subcutaneous emphysema, 1.9% for pneumothorax and 5.5% for hypercarbia in patients which can be solved spontaneously within 2-3 days.

Robotic Surgery for Gynaecological Cancer Treatments

Robotic surgery is a minimally invasive approach to treating gynaecological cancers that often cause minimal bleeding, scarring and postoperative pain and discomfort than other traditional surgical options. Different surgical treatment methods for gynaecological cancers include:

Robotic Hysterectomy

Robotic hysterectomy is a surgical procedure that involves the removal of the uterus (partial hysterectomy) or the uterus along with the cervix (total hysterectomy). During this robotic surgery, doctors use instruments passed through small abdominal incisions. This allows the doctors to have a 3D view of the uterus, enabling them to perform the surgery with precision, flexibility, and control.

Robotic Lymph Node Dissection

Nowadays, lymph node dissections are commonly performed using robotic techniques, unlike traditional lymphadenectomy procedures. The main difference between these procedures is that in robotic surgery, the surgeon uses the da Vinci Robotic System to perform lymph node dissections. The advantages of robotic lymph node dissection are:

  • Reduced visibility of bruising or cosmetic blemishes
  • Decreased pain and discomfort for patients
  • Shorter recovery period with improved outcomes
  • Fewer activity restrictions during the recovery phase
  • Enhanced surgical accuracy

Robotic Debulking Surgery

Robotic debulking surgery is a surgical procedure aimed at removing a significant portion of tumor tissue, without aiming for complete eradication. This may result in a small amount of cancerous tissue remaining in the body. Reports indicate that 79% of patients who underwent debulking surgery experienced a complete clinical response, compared to 59% of patients who did not undergo this surgery.


Robotic surgery is one of the progressive treatment approaches available for cancers. The precision and the safety that it comes with have made cancer surgeries significantly tolerable for patients. Nowadays, with a large number of highly skilled robotic surgeons available, complex cancer cases can be treated effectively with minimal pain and early recovery options.

Robotic surgery has emerged as a progressive and effective treatment approach for cancer. The precision and safety it offers have greatly improved the surgical experience for cancer patients. With the availability of highly skilled robotic surgeons, even complex cancer cases can be treated with minimal pain and faster recovery. Robotic surgery has revolutionised the field of cancer treatment and provided patients with better outcomes and improved quality of life. It continues to be a promising option for cancer patients, offering new possibilities for successful treatment.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How long is robotic surgery recovery?

Generally, the recovery period for robotic surgery is relatively shorter, with most patients being able to return to their normal activities within 2-3 weeks.

2. Who is a suitable candidate for robotic surgery in gynaecological cancer treatment?

Robotic surgery is beneficial for physically fit patients, including older individuals and those who are obese. However, it may not be suitable for patients with a larger cancer mass, critical illness, or a uterus size exceeding that of a 4-month pregnancy.

3. Will i still need chemotherapy or radiation therapy after undergoing robotic surgery for gynaecological cancer?

Radiation therapy after undergoing robotic surgery can reduce the risk of disease recurrence in those areas. Thus, doctors may give such therapies according to the needs.

4. How soon can i expect to return to my normal daily activities after undergoing robotic surgery for gynaecological cancer?

One can expect to return to their normal daily activities within 2-3 weeks post-surgery.

5. Can robotic surgery be performed for both early-stage and advanced-stage gynaecological cancer?

Robotic surgery is mainly effective in treating early-stage gynaecological cancer in patients.