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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) 

Q. Why is the product called the da Vinci Surgical System?

A. The da Vinci System is called "da Vinci" in part because Leonardo da Vinci invented the first robot. da Vinci also used unparalleled anatomical accuracy and three-dimensional details to bring his masterpieces to life. The da Vinci Surgical System similarly provides physicians with such enhanced detail and precision that the System can simulate an open surgical environment while allowing operation through tiny incisions.

Q. What are the benefits of using the da Vinci Surgical System when compared with traditional methods of surgery?

A. Some of the major benefits experienced by surgeons using the da Vinci Surgical System over traditional approaches have been greater surgical precision, increased range of motion, improved dexterity, enhanced visualization and improved access. Benefits experienced by patients may include a shorter hospital stay, less pain, less risk of infection, less blood loss, fewer transfusions, less scarring, faster recovery and a quicker return to normal daily activities. None of these benefits can be guaranteed, as surgery can be both patient- and procedure-specific.

Q. Why can't surgeons perform complex procedures such as cardiac surgery through 1-2 cm ports today? 

A. Complex procedures like cardiac surgery require an excellent view of the operative field and the ability to maneuver instruments within the chest cavity, abdomen or pelvis with precision and control. Surgeons historically have used the "open sternotomy" approach to heart surgery, which means splitting the sternum (breastbone) and pulling back the ribs - which typically requires a foot-long incision. This provides visibility and allows room for the surgeon to get his hands and instruments very close to the operative site. 
More recently, smaller incisions have been used to perform a variety of cardiac procedures. However, many cardiac surgeons feel the reduced access may limit visualization and may impede access to the operative field.

Q. Has the da Vinci Surgical System been cleared by the FDA? A. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has cleared the da Vinci Surgical System for a wide range of procedures. Please see the FDA Clearance page on our web site for specific clearances and representative uses. Q. Where is the da Vinci Surgical System being used now? 

A. Currently, the da Vinci Surgical System is being used worldwide, in major centers in the United States, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, India, Japan, the Netherlands, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, Australia, Turkey, Czech Republic and Greece.

Q. Is this "robotic surgery"? 

A. Although the general term "robotic surgery" is often used to refer to our technology, this term can give the impression that the robot (the da Vinci System) is performing the surgery. In contrast, the da Vinci Surgical System cannot - in any manner - run on its own. Instead, the System is designed to seamlessly replicate the movement of the surgeon's hands with the tips of micro-instruments. The System cannot make decisions, nor can it perform any type of movement or maneuver without the surgeon’s direct input.

Q. Will the da Vinci Surgical System make the surgeon unnecessary? 

A. Absolutely not. On the contrary, the da Vinci System is designed to help surgeons advance their technique by enhancing their ability to perform complex minimally invasive surgery. The System replicates the surgeon's movements in real time. It cannot be programmed, nor can it make decisions on its own to move the surgical instruments.

Q. Is a surgeon using the da Vinci System operating in "virtual reality"? 

A. While he/she is seated at a console a few feet away from the patient, the surgeon views an actual image of the surgical field while operating in real time, through tiny incisions, using electromechanically enhanced instruments. At no time does the surgeon see a virtual image or program/command the system to perform any maneuver on its own or outside of the surgeon's direct, real-time control.

Q. While using the da Vinci Surgical System, can the surgeon feel anything inside the patient's chest or abdomen?

A. The System relays some force feedback sensations from the operative field back to the surgeon throughout the procedure.

Q. Is this telesurgery? Can you operate over long distances? 

A. The da Vinci Surgical System can theoretically be used to operate over long distances. This capability, however, is not the primary focus of the company and thus is not available with the current da Vinci Surgical System.