Image of pediatric urology surgery incisions over time
Left: A patient’s healing incisions one month after robotic surgery. Right: Another patient’s healed incisions one year after robotic surgery.

When surgery is needed, our experts at the University of Chicago Medicine Comer Children's Hospital perform robotic-assisted and minimally invasive procedures to treat a full range of pediatric urological conditions.

Understanding Pediatric Robotic Urologic Surgery

Offering the precision of traditional open surgery and the shorter recovery time of minimally invasive surgery, robotic-assisted surgery is available for intricate urological procedures for children.

How does robotic urologic surgery work?

Comer Children's uses the da Vinci Surgical System for all robotic surgeries. During a robotic surgery, the patient is in a standard operating room fully staffed by surgeons, anesthesiologists and nurses. Robotic surgery uses a robot with arms that hold surgery instruments and a camera. A surgeon controls the instruments that go into 2 to 3 small incisions (cuts). This lets them see more and move more in the body

Which pediatric urologic procedures are being done robotically?

Not all pediatric urologic surgery can use robotics. It depends on the kind of surgery and the patient. Your doctor will talk with you about the kind of surgery that is best for you.

Surgery that can be done using robotics include:

  • Pyeloplasty
  • Nephrectomy and hemi-nephrectomy
  • Ureteral re-implantation
  • Bladder augmentation cystoplasty
  • Appendicovesicostomy (APV) channel creation
  • Antegrade continence enema (ACE) channel creation
  • Bladder neck reconstruction
  • And more

Sometimes robotic surgery is planned, but factors during the surgery cause the surgery to be finished using open surgery. Open surgery uses one large incision that the surgical instruments go into.

What is the difference between robotic urologic surgery and laparoscopic urologic surgery?  

Another kind of surgery is called laparoscopic surgery. This uses hand-held instruments and a camera that goes into 3 to 4 smaller incisions controlled by
the surgeon.

Laparoscopic urologic surgery is like robotic urologic surgery but it does not allow as much movement with instruments as robotic surgery. It also uses a 2D camera unlike robotic surgery that uses a 3D camera.

Benefits of Robotic Surgery

With robotic surgery, our team can provide the best surgery for our patients with benefits including:

  • Smaller scars
  • Quicker recovery
  • Less pain and less need for pain medication
  • Less risk of bleeding
  • Shorter hospital stay

Will the robotic surgery be quick?

Robotic surgeries may take longer than other types of minimally invasive surgeries due to time needed for positioning the instruments and other equipment. Expert teams can often complete the surgery in the same amount of time as an open surgery.

How long will it take for my child to recover from surgery?

Recovery times vary from patient to patient. In general, hospitalization and recovery times for patients who have robotic surgery are much shorter than those who have an open surgery. Children often return to normal activity within a few days, compared to the several weeks necessary after an open surgery.

Is robotic surgery covered by insurance?

Yes, robotic surgery is covered by insurance. Please be sure to check with your insurance provider regarding your coverage.

Meet Our Pediatric Urologist

Our team provides compassionate care, using the most up-to-date treatments and methods, including robotic-assisted surgery. We do everything possible to make sure recovery and transition back to regular activities goes smoothly. In each case, the patient’s comfort comes first.

Pediatric Urology Team Brochure