What Is The Difference Between Laparoscopic And Robotic Surgery?

Previously, having surgery meant needing large incisions to be made in the body, which required a long recovery time. However, as technology advances in the medical world, new approaches to surgery have been developed, such as laparoscopic surgery and robotic surgery. 

In this guide, we are going to look at what the latest types of surgery are, when they are performed and the main differences between them. Learn how your surgery will be performed when you book an appointment with Mr Achal Khanna at his private clinic in Milton Keynes.

What is laparoscopic surgery?

Laparoscopic surgery, also known as minimally invasive surgery, is a surgical technique that uses small incisions and specialised instruments to perform operations inside the abdomen or pelvis. 

The procedure is performed under general anaesthetic and the surgeon creates several small incisions in the abdomen, each just over a centimetre long. A laparoscope, a thin tube with a camera and light source, is then inserted through one of the incisions. This provides the surgeon with a magnified view of the internal organs in the body. 

Other specialised surgical instruments can be inserted through the incisions to manipulate, cut and suture tissue. Images from the laparoscope are displayed on a video monitor so that the surgeon can control the instruments from outside the body.

Once the procedure is complete, the instruments are removed and the small incisions are closed with sutures or staples.

Some of the benefits of laparoscopic surgery are: 

  • Less pain
  • Reduced bleeding
  • Smaller scars due to smaller incisions
  • A quicker recovery time as it is less invasive

However, there are some slight disadvantages to laparoscopic surgery. It is a more technically-challenging procedure than regular open surgery, and it can sometimes take longer to complete. Not everyone is a suitable candidate due to underlying conditions or other complications too. 

Laparoscopic surgery has gone through many advancements in recent years, such as single-incision laparoscopic surgery. This procedure uses just one incision and may be used in procedures like gallbladder removal surgery.

What is robotic surgery?

Robotic surgery is a minimally invasive surgery that uses robotic arms to perform surgical procedures. The robotic arms are controlled by a surgeon, who sits at a console and uses hand and foot controls to manipulate the instruments.

One example of a robotic surgical system is the Versius system. With this system, robotic arms — including one with a camera attached — are inserted into the body through small incisions. The surgeon is provided with a 3D view and controls the robotic arms on the console to complete the surgery. 

The robotic arms provide greater precision and range of motion than traditional surgery and they have built-in safety features to prevent accidental damage.

The main advantages of robotic surgery are: 

  • It ensures greater precision and control during the surgery
  • Less damage to the surrounding tissue
  • Decreased blood loss
  • Quicker recovery time
  • It can be used to treat a wide range of conditions

There are some disadvantages to robotic surgery. The cost of robotic surgery is generally higher than traditional laparoscopic surgery. It is also a relatively new technology, so not all hospitals have the equipment or surgeons that are trained to use it.

When are laparoscopic and robotic surgery used?

Laparoscopic and robotic surgery are used to treat a wide range of medical conditions. Some conditions that laparoscopic and robotic surgeries are used for include: 

  • Gallstones – laparoscopic cholecystectomy is a common procedure used to remove the gallbladder, typically due to the development of gallstones 
  • Appendicitis – laparoscopic appendectomy is a minimally invasive surgery used to remove the appendix 
  • Hernias – laparoscopic surgery can be used to repair various types of hernias, including inguinal, femoral and ventral hernias 
  • Uterine fibroids – laparoscopic myomectomy is a minimally invasive surgery used to remove uterine fibroids 
  • Prostate cancer – robotic-assisted laparoscopic prostatectomy is a minimally invasive surgery used to remove the prostate gland
  • Colorectal cancer – Laparoscopic or robotic-assisted surgery can be used to remove tumours in the colon or rectum 

The key differences between robotic and laparoscopic surgery

Although both laparoscopic and robotic surgery have similar benefits, such as greater precision and faster recovery times, there are some key differences between them. 

Equipment used

Laparoscopic surgery is performed using a laparoscope. This device is inserted through a small incision in the abdomen, allowing the surgeon to view the internal organs on a video monitor. The surgeon then uses specialised instruments inserted through other small incisions to perform the surgery.

Robotic surgery, on the other hand, uses a robotic arm to perform the surgery. The surgeon controls the arm from a console in the operating room, using hand and foot controls to manipulate the robotic arms and instruments. The robotic arm is equipped with a 3D camera that provides the surgeon with a detailed view of the surgical site.


In laparoscopic surgery, the surgeon directly manipulates the instruments inserted through small incisions in the abdomen. The surgeon has a limited range of motion and must work within the constraints of the instruments.

In robotic surgery, the surgeon uses the robotic arm to move the instruments. The robotic arm can move in ways that are impossible for human hands — allowing for greater precision and control.

Recovery time

Laparoscopic surgery typically has a shorter recovery time than open surgery, with patients often able to return to normal activities within a few weeks. 

Robotic surgery also has a shorter recovery time than open surgery, and it can potentially be shorter than the recovery of laparoscopic surgery. 

However, this does depend on several factors such as your health and if there were any complications during surgery.

Level of surgeon control and precision

Both laparoscopic and robotic surgery offer greater precision and control than open surgery. 

However, robotic surgery allows for even greater precision and control than laparoscopic surgery, due to the range of motion of the robotic arm.

Is robotic surgery better than laparoscopic?

Both laparoscopic and robotic surgery have their advantages and disadvantages, and which procedure is better depends on the specific situation and your needs.

Laparoscopic surgery has been used for many years and has proven to be a safe and effective alternative to traditional open surgery. 

Alternatively, robotic surgery is a relatively new technology that has been rapidly gaining popularity in recent years. The robotic system provides greater precision and dexterity, as well as a 3D view of the surgical field. 

Robotic surgery has been shown to have some advantages over laparoscopic surgery, including improved visualisation, greater precision and control, reduced blood loss and shorter hospital stays. However, robotic surgery is generally more expensive than laparoscopic surgery, and not all hospitals have access to the necessary equipment. Additionally, there may be a longer learning curve for surgeons who are new to the technology. 

Complications of both are similar, but overall, these procedures have been shown to have low complication rates compared to traditional open surgery.

Research has shown that both laparoscopic and robotic surgery are safe and effective procedures for a wide range of conditions. One study found that robotic surgery was associated with lower rates of complications and shorter hospital stays compared to laparoscopic surgery for certain types of gynaecological procedures. 

However, other studies have found that there is no significant difference in outcomes between the two procedures for other types of surgery.

Which type of surgery is right for me?

When considering surgery, your consultant must evaluate the most appropriate surgical approach to achieve the best possible outcome for you. 

Robotic surgery offers greater precision and dexterity than laparoscopic surgery, which is particularly beneficial for complex procedures. The 3D view of the surgical site and enhanced visualisation can be more helpful when performing intricate procedures. Laparoscopic surgery may be more suitable for simple procedures or when a larger surgical field is required.

Specific conditions or factors may be more suited to one type of surgery over the other. For example, if you are obese or have dense scar tissue, robotic surgery may be better for you due to the flexibility of the robotic instruments. Respiratory or heart problems may benefit from laparoscopic surgery as it involves less time under anaesthetic and a shorter recovery time.

Robotic surgery may be more expensive than laparoscopic surgery due to the cost of the robotic system and the specialised training required for the surgeon. 

Both surgeries have their advantages as well as some potential drawbacks. 

Mr Achal Khanna is highly skilled in both laparoscopic and robotic surgery, so you know that you will be in safe hands throughout your operation. Book a consultation today and discover how we can support you and your health with laparoscopic or robotic surgery.