Robotic Urology Procedures

Your doctor guides robotic arms through tiny keyhole incisions to perform urologic surgery. At UVA, we can use robotic arms to perform these urologic surgeries:

  • Prostatectomy — treats prostate cancer by removing part or all of a prostate gland 
  • Pyeloplasty — repairs an abnormality of the kidney and nearby ureter (the tube connecting kidney and bladder)
  • Cystectomy — removes all or part of the bladder to treat bladder cancer
  • Nephrectomy — treats kidney cancer, kidney stones or kidney disease by removing all or part of the kidney
  • Ureteral reimplantation — to disconnect and reinsert the ureter from the bladder to keep urine from flowing backwards from the bladder into the kidneys
  • Procedures requiring fine dissection and suturing, such as reconnection of the ureter

Benefits of Robot-Assisted Surgery

Compared to more traditional procedures, robotic-assisted surgery may result in:

  • Less scarring
  • Reduced recovery times
  • Less risk of infection
  • Less blood loss
  • Reduced trauma to the body
  • Shorter hospital stay
  • Faster recovery

Robot-Assisted Surgery: What To Expect

Prior to Procedure

Depending on the reason for your surgery, your doctor may do the following:

  • Physical exam
  • Blood tests and urine tests
  • Electrocardiogram (ECG, EKG)
  • Intravenous pyelogram (IVP)
  • Retrograde pyelogram
  • Kidneys, ureter, bladder (KUB)
  • Ultrasound
  • CT scan
  • MRI scan
  • Cystoscopy

Leading up to the procedure:

  • Talk to your doctor about your medications. You may be asked to stop taking some medicines up to one week before the procedure.
  • Take antibiotics and follow a special diet if instructed.
  • Shower the night before using antibacterial soap if instructed.
  • Arrange for someone to drive you home from the hospital. 
  • Eat a light meal the night before. Do not eat or drink anything after midnight.

Description of the Procedure

General anesthesia prevents paid during the procedure. Your doctor makes several small keyhole incisions in your abdomen. Your doctor will pass carbon dioxide gas through the area to easily view internal structures. Your doctor passes a small camera (endoscope) through one of the incisions. The camera lights, magnifies and projects the structures onto a video screen. The camera is attached to one of the robotic arms. The other arms hold instruments for grasping, cutting, dissecting and suturing.

The procedure takes between 2-4 hours. You should expect to stay about 1-2 days in the hospital. 

Post-procedure Care

When you return home, do the following to help ensure a smooth recovery:

  • You may need to care for a urine catheter.
  • If advised by your doctor, take antibiotics and avoid other medications.
  • Keep your legs elevated while resting. Move your legs to avoid blood clots.
  • Wash the incisions with mild soap and water.
  • Ask your doctor about when it's safe to shower, bathe or soak in water.
  • Drink plenty of fluids to help to clear your bladder.
  • Eat a high fiber diet and use stool softeners when necessary.
  • Avoid caffeinated beverages, alcohol, spicy foods or other food or drink that might upset your stomach, intestines or urinary tract.
  • Limit certain activities, such as driving, working and doing strenuous exercise, until you have recovered.

Total recovery usually takes about 3-6 weeks.

Possible Complications

Your doctor will review a list of possible complications, which may include:

  • Damage to nearby organs or structures
  • Infection
  • Bleeding
  • Anesthesia-related problems
  • The need to switch to traditional surgical methods such as traditional laparoscopic or open surgery

Some factors that may increase the risk of complications include:

  • Pre-existing heart or lung condition
  • Increased age
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • Excessive alcohol intake
  • Use of certain medications


Content was created using EBSCO’s Health Library. Edits to original content made by Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia. This information is not a substitute for professional medical advice.