Considering Whether Robot-Assisted Surgery Might Be an Option for You

Our experts explain how it works and the benefits for you.

Kim Tillemans using robotic surgery techniques

What is robotic surgery?

It's a type of minimally invasive surgery that allows the surgeon to operate through multiple incisions about a quarter-inch long, instead of one large incision. The robot has miniature "arms" that fit through these small incisions, and the surgeon controls the arms while watching through a camera.

“It’s important to realize that the robot doesn’t do the surgery," says Douglas Bailey, a surgeon at Fairview Ridges Hospital and Fairview Southdale Hospital. "It’s a tool we use.”

What's it used for?

It can be used for dozens of operations, including hernias, many gynecology procedures such as hysterectomies and treating endometriosis, and even for a heart bypass.

How long has Fairview used surgical robots?

Since 2003, we've performed over 16,000 robotic surgeries at our sites.

“I’ve been using the robot for about six years,” says Kim Tillemans, an OB-GYN at Fairview Ridges.

What are the benefits?

Less stress on the patient's body, for one thing.

"I’ve seen my patients have less pain, quicker surgery times and faster recovery times,” Dr. Bailey says. For patients who've had previous surgeries, "I also have the ability to work around scar tissue that I couldn’t do without the assistance of robots.”

The robot gives your surgeon several advantages.

“It’ll allow the surgeon to be more thorough, because they’ll have 3D vision," Dr. Tillemans says. “Using the robot allows me to have better visualization and control, which improves my patients’ safety.”

Where can I get robotic surgery?

It's offered at Fairview Ridges Hospital in Burnsville, Fairview Southdale Hospital in Edina, St. John's Hospital in Maplewood, University of Minnesota Medical Center - East Bank and University of Minnesota Medical Center - West Bank.

How much does it cost?

Although insurance coverage differs from person to person, plans usually treat robotic surgery the same as other minimally invasive procedures.

How can I request robotic surgery?

If you're planning to have surgery, just ask your doctor.

“I recommend carefully discussing the surgical options with your physician,” says Dr. Tillemans. "Robot-assisted surgery may be a good option for you.”

Learn more about our surgery team’s innovative approach.

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