Although robotic surgery is associated with shortened recovery time, reduced risk of infection, and less pain, it still poses many risks. One of them is the risk of injury to the surrounding organs or tissues, which may happen if the robotic equipment malfunctions or the surgeon does not use the instruments correctly. If you are scheduled for robotic surgery, be aware of these potential complications.
Blood Vessel Damage
Improper use of robotic surgery tools may lead to blood vessel damage. If one of the large vessels is pierced or burned, there is a risk of severe blood loss and an increased risk of infection. There is also a chance a hematoma, or collection of blood, will form inside the surgical cavity.
Blood typically flows from the arteries through tiny vessels called capillaries before reaching your veins. If one of the vessels is damaged during surgery, you may develop an arteriovenous fistula, which is an abnormal connection between an artery and a vein. This condition reduces the blood flow to the tissues located beneath your capillaries, which may lead to swelling on the surface of the skin, fatigue, low blood pressure, and bulging veins.
Cauterization Injuries (Burns)
Surgeons use cauterization, or the process of using electricity to heat tissue, to stop the bleeding during some surgical procedures. Although a video screen helps the surgeon see what is happening at the surgical site, it isn't always possible to see the full length of a cautery tool. As a result, some of the surrounding tissue may be burned during the cauterization process, resulting in an increased risk of infection.
If you are having surgery on your stomach, bladder, or uterus, there is a risk of bowel puncture during robotic surgery. These punctures may be caused by sharp surgical instruments or cauterization tools. In severe cases, the contents of the bowel leak out through the puncture wound. This increases the risk for a very serious type of infection called sepsis.
Bladder and Ureter Injuries
Bladder and ureter injuries are particularly common during surgery on the female reproductive tract due to their close proximity to the ovaries, uterus, and fallopian tubes. The ureters are tubes that carry urine from the kidneys to the bladder. If you receive a bladder or ureter injury during your surgery, you may experience increased discomfort during the recovery period. You may also need to undergo additional diagnostic tests or surgical procedures to identify and repair the damage.
Due to the amount of time it takes to set up robotic equipment, robotic surgery may take longer than other types of minimally invasive surgery. This increases the risk for a condition called compartment syndrome, which develops when there is increased pressure in one of the muscles in the limbs. This condition limits blood flow to the affected muscle, resulting in severe pain and numbness. If you develop compartment syndrome during robotic surgery, the surgeon will have to relieve the pressure by cutting into the the thick layer of tissue covering the affected muscle.
A fistula occurs when a connection forms between two organs that are not usually connected. Abnormal connections may form between the bladder and the vagina; the urethra and the vagina; and the rectum and the vagina. If you develop one of these fistulas, you may experience ongoing problems with passing stool or controlling your bladder function.
Many of the injuries associated with robotic surgery cause lasting complications. These complications may interfere with your ability to hold a job or lead a normal life. You may also have to pay thousands of dollars for medications, physical therapy, medical supplies, and rehabilitation. Because you have a limited amount of time to file a personal injury suit, contact a medical malpractice attorney from a firm like Otorowski Johnston Morrow & Golden P.L.L.C. as soon as possible to find out what you should do next.