Robotic surgery in infants and children: an argument for smaller and fewer incisions

Trudy Kawal, Ravindra Sahadev, Arun Srinivasan, David I-Wang Chu, Dana Weiss, Christopher Long, Jason Van Batavia, Yves Bodar, Jay Shah, Aseem R. Shukla*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Purpose: Robotic-assisted laparoscopic (RAL) surgery has gained momentum in pediatric urology. Technological adaptations such as the development of 5 mm instruments have led to robotic procedures being performed on younger children and those having smaller body habitus, with improved cosmesis. However, concerns have been raised regarding decreased intra-abdominal working space and the absence of monopolar curved scissors (hot endoshears®) when using 5 mm instruments. The aim of this study is to examine the overall experience at a single pediatric urology center using 5 mm instruments with no planned additional assistant ports during common robotic procedures. We hypothesized this approach is safe and feasible for a variety of pediatric urologic reconstructive procedures. Methods: We retrospectively reviewed all major robotic procedures entered into an IRB approved data registry. The analysis was performed only for procedures in which 5 mm instruments were used exclusively with hook diathermy. Procedures that utilized 8 mm instrumentation were excluded from the study. Data were abstracted according to patient age, weight and robotic surgery performed. Outcomes included post-operative complications (Clavien–Dindo classification), operative time, operative blood loss, need for assistant port placement and conversion rates to open or pure laparoscopic surgery. Results: From 2012 to 2016, 220 consecutive pediatric RAL urological surgical cases were performed on 201 patients. These comprised pyeloplasty (n = 102) 46.4%, ureteral reimplants (n = 84) 38.2% and ipsilateral ureteroureterostomy (n = 34) 15.5%. Median age at surgery was 4 years (3 months to 18 years). There were no conversions to open or laparoscopic surgery. Placement of an additional Assist port was documented in seven cases. Severe (Clavien grade 4) complications occurred in two patients requiring ICU admission: one for sepsis and one ventilator-dependent patient having increased work of breathing post-op. Intra-operative blood loss was minimal (< 50 ml) in 97% of cases. Patients ≤ 1 year of age comprised 28.6% of the study population. Univariate analysis revealed no association between age and occurrence of complications (p = 0.957) Conclusions: This study represents one of the largest series of consecutive RAL surgery using 5 mm instruments in pediatric urology. Acceptable complication rates, OR times and blood loss were achieved using this technique. We conclude that the use of 5 mm instruments gives excellent operative outcomes in pediatric reconstructive procedures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1835-1840
Number of pages6
JournalWorld journal of urology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2020


  • 5 mm robotic instruments
  • Minimally invasive surgery
  • Pediatric urologic reconstructive procedures
  • Robot-assisted surgery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Urology

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