Robotic-Assisted Surgery

da Vinci® robotic surgery system

The da Vinci® robotic surgery system can be used to treat a range of surgical conditions.

Robotic-assisted laparoscopic surgery is one of the field’s most exciting advances in the past decade. This laparoscopic technology uses a combination of highly magnified 3-D imagery and surgeon-guided robotic movements to perform delicate urologic surgeries with unmatched precision. The result: less bleeding, less pain, less scarring and a potentially easier recovery for your child.

Our surgeons at Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children (in Wilmington, Del.), Nemours Children’s Specialty Care, Jacksonville (in Florida), and Nemours Children’s Hospital (in Orlando) use the state-of-the-art da Vinci® robotic surgery system. If your child needs pediatric robotic surgery, take comfort in the fact that our highly skilled experts can perform many types of corrective and reconstructive procedures in this minimally invasive way.

Learn More About Robotic-Assisted Laparoscopic Surgery
How Does the da Vinci® Robotic Surgery System Work?

When it comes to robotic-assisted laparoscopic surgery, da Vinci® technology leads the way. With the da Vinci® robotic surgery system, the surgeon controls precision tools using a camera system. A few tiny incisions (rather than the one larger incision typically required in traditional open procedures) allow the camera system and tools to enter the child’s body. From there, the surgeon can control the surgery while sitting at a nearby computer console. Aided by enhanced 3-D imagery and highly magnified views, the surgeon is able to manipulate the robotic-assisted tools with greater dexterity, stability and range of motion than what can normally be achieved with the human hand.

A common misconception about pediatric robotic surgery is that the robot actually replaces your child’s surgeon. This is not the case. The surgeon’s expertise is simply enhanced by the precision technology offered by the da Vinci® system. The surgeon is in control at all times, and the robot does not move on its own.

What Are the Benefits?

The potential benefits of robotic-assisted surgery are many. Pediatric patients typically experience:

  • smaller incisions
  • less postoperative pain
  • decreased blood loss and need for transfusions
  • lower risk of infection
  • shorter hospital stays
  • quicker return to daily activities
  • less scarring and improved cosmetic appearance

Surveys show that parents whose children underwent robotic-assisted surgery as opposed to traditional open surgery were overwhelmingly pleased with the outcome, particularly the size and appearance of the scars.

Is Robotic-Assisted Laparoscopic Surgery Right for My Child?

When surgery is needed for your child, we realize that you want all the information possible in order to make the best decision. So we take the time to explain each option, always looking for the least invasive method for faster healing and return to normal activities.

You can also count on us to work closely with you and other medical professionals on your child’s care team, because we firmly believe that a collaborative approach yields the best outcomes. Together, we’ll provide the guidance you need when considering a robotic-assisted approach versus a traditional open surgical procedure for your child.

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Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children, Wilmington

1600 Rockland Road
Wilmington, DE 19803
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For Appointments: (302) 651-4200

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  • medical and pharmacy insurance cards
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  • names and dosage of all medications, including over-the-counter medication, your child is currently taking
  • guardianship and custody papers, if a legal guardian rather than a parent accompanies your child
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1600 Rockland Road, Wilmington, DE 19803
For Appointments: (302) 651-4000
Get Map & Directions »
Learn More About This Location »

Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children is proud to offer the da Vinci® robotic surgery system to our patients in the Delaware and Philadelphia area.

Our da Vinci® robot technology provides 3-D imagery and views at 15-times magnifications for our surgeons, allowing them to perform delicate surgeries using smaller instruments with greater dexterity. This translates into smaller scars, less postoperative pain, decreased risk of infection and faster healing times.

At our hospital, surgeons in our urology and otolaryngology (Ear, Nose & Throat) specialties use the da Vinci® system to perform surgical procedures. These surgeons went through advanced training to use the system and are experienced with it, having performed many successful procedures with da Vinci® robot technology.

Types of Robotic-Assisted Surgical Procedures in Urology

The da Vinci® robotic surgery system can be used to treat any number of urologic conditions, as well as certain structural defects of the reproductive system. Many of these conditions are congenital (meaning they occurred during fetal development and were present at birth), but a few can be acquired later on.

The pediatric robotic surgery we perform includes:

ACE procedure: Antegrade colonic enema (or “ACE”) surgery involves creating a small channel to the colon with the appendix. Fluid inserted into this channel can flush the bowel of feces.

Mitrofanoff: Some children have conditions that require intermittent drainage of their bladder with a small tube. Surgery to create a channel to the bladder can be done by using the appendix and bringing it out of the belly button.

Nephrectomy (or partial nephrectomy): This is an operation to remove a kidney (or part of a kidney) that isn’t functioning properly or is diseased.

Partial cystectomy: This is an operation to remove part of the bladder.

Pyeloplasty: This is the removal of a urinary blockage, most frequently a ureteropelvic junction (or “UPJ”) obstruction, which is usually caused by a narrowing of the ureter (the tubes that carry urine from the kidney to the bladder) where it connects to the kidney.

Renal cyst ablation: This is an operation to remove cysts (fluid-filled sacs) on the kidney.

Urachal cyst removal: The urachus is the remnant of a channel that connects the top of the bladder to the belly button during fetal development. This typically seals off early in pregnancy. If it doesn’t seal off, the channel may need to be removed.

Ureteral reimplantation: An abnormally developed ureter can cause vesicoureteral reflux (an unhealthy backflow of urine from the bladder back up toward the kidneys). Surgery to reposition the ureter can correct this problem.

Our Robotic Surgery in Urology Team

Pediatric urologists Jennifer Hagerty, DO, director of the robotics program, and Ahmad Bani Hani, MD, routinely perform pediatric robotic surgery in urology at the state-of-the-art duPont Hospital for Children.

Both Dr. Hagerty and Dr. Bani Hani have earned recognition as leaders in their field and passionate advocates for their patients. They understand that children are not just small adults — their developing bodies require specialized care, and so do their emotional needs.

If your child requires urologic surgery, you’ll find that every expert your child meets — from skilled radiologists and anesthesiologists to knowledgeable, compassionate nurses — understands the importance of treating the whole child and not just the illness.

Types of Robotic-Assisted Surgical Procedures in Otolaryngology (ENT)

Our surgeons use the da Vinci® robotic-assisted system to perform procedures on areas including the:

  • oral cavity and throat
  • larynx (voice box)

Used this way, the procedures are often called "transoral robotic surgery" (TORS). Our surgeons can correct structural issues such as problems with swallowing, severe sleep apnea, and can remove tumors in the mouth and throat.

Our Robotic Surgery in Otolaryngology Team

Pediatric otolaryngologist Richard J. Schmidt, MD, is a fellowship-trained in otolaryngology (right here at duPont Hospital for Children) and has been named to a number of best doctor lists. His medical interests include obstructive sleep apnea, minimally invasive surgery, airway reconstruction surgery, and surgery of the head and neck. He especially loves the access to quality medical care we provide here at duPont Hospital for Children.

If your child requires robotic-assisted otolaryngology surgery, you can rest easy knowing the team includes skilled radiologists and anesthesiologists, as well as knowledgeable and compassionate nurses. You can count on them to treat your child as a whole, and not just treat the illness.

What to Expect Before Surgery

Before you and your child’s care team make any decisions about surgery, your child may undergo blood tests, urine tests and imaging studies (including MRIs, CAT scans or nuclear medicine studies). These tests assess the structure and function of your child’s urinary tract so that we can determine the best course of treatment.

About Anesthesia

Parents often have questions about the anesthesia used for surgery. Rest assured that during any urologic procedure that requires anesthesia, our board-certified Nemours pediatric anesthesiologists are experts at determining the best types of medicine to keep your child calm, comfortable and safe.

We also provide kid-friendly strategies to help lessen your child’s fears about surgery. One example is the “play therapy” sessions we offer — a great way to help ease any anxiety our young patients may be feeling about their upcoming procedures.

Helping Your Child Through Surgery

Our pediatric surgical specialists (surgeons, anesthesiologists and nurses) understand what kids need, psychologically and physically. Our guidebook provides step-by-step instructions and information about what to expect before, during and right after surgery at duPont Hospital for Children.