When Dr. Hans Arora recently performed two particularly complex urologic surgeries simultaneously on a young patient, he utilized the most advanced techniques and robotic tools available. As a result, the child experienced far less discomfort than with a traditional “open” procedure, had several very small ½-inch scars vs. one large 12-inch scar the length of her abdomen, and went home in less than two days instead of spending five to seven days in the hospital.
Success stories like this are one reason that the use of pediatric robotic urologic surgeries are quickly increasing.
Among academic medical centers, UNC Urology continues to take a leadership role in providing robotic pediatric surgical procedures when appropriate, as well as more traditional pediatric surgeries.
“We did 25 robotic pediatric urology surgeries in 2022, are on track to do about 40 in 2023, and expect those numbers to continue to rapidly increase in the future,” said Hans Arora, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor of Urology and Director of Pediatric Robotic Surgery at UNC in Chapel Hill. He specializes in minimally-invasive surgical techniques including robotic surgery for both benign and malignant conditions in children and adults.
An innovator in his field, Dr. Arora performs more of these procedures per year than any other urologist in Eastern North Carolina, and probably within the state. Dr. Arora has also published data on robotic surgeries in medical journals and has spoken on the topic at professional seminars.
Performing pediatric robotic surgeries – ranging from relatively simple to complex – requires specialized training and equipment. In recent years, pediatric urology has benefitted from a similar trend in adult urology, in which many procedures are increasingly being performed robotically.
“Parents often marvel at how quickly their child recovers after robotic surgery,” said Dr. Arora. “The patients go home much sooner, are far less likely to need narcotic pain medicines, and resume normal activities very soon afterward.”
Hans Arora, MD, PhD
Director of Pediatric Robotic Surgery
Assistant Professor of Urology
Because robotic surgeries utilize much smaller incisions, they can result in less pain and smaller post-surgical scars. As children grow in later years, scars from open surgeries lengthen, but scars from robotic surgery typically don’t grow larger and sometimes shrink.
When carried out by a physician who has performed many of them, these surgeries are generally considered to be as safe and effective as traditional open surgeries, according to Dr. Arora. While he is currently the only pediatric urology robotic surgeon at UNC, younger urologists are increasingly seeing this becoming a part of their training and UNC expects to see an increase in the number of procedures performed in the future.
While not all procedures are appropriate or optimally suited for robotic surgery, some that can be performed this way include pyeloplasty, uretero-ureterostomy, partial- or hemi- or radical nephrectomy, ureteral reimplant, and many others.
If you or a loved one are interested in learning more about these procedures or related urologic topics, you may visit our website’s Patient Care section, or meet with a provider by contacting one of our UNC Urology clinic locations.
About Our Ahead of the Curve Series
Our “Ahead of the Curve” blog series covers the latest and most effective treatments and techniques in UNC Urology patient care. Urology is a complex and rapidly evolving field, with new advancements and breakthroughs constantly emerging. In this series, we will explore a range of topics related to urology patient care, including advanced surgical procedures, innovative diagnostic techniques, and innovative medical therapies. Our goal is to provide you with an overview of the excellence and innovation happening right here at UNC Urology.