da Vinci® Glossary

Term Definition
3D (three-dimensional) vision Stereo or binocular vision created by two optical channels, as in two eyes. Three-dimensional vision blends the separate images seen by each eye into one composite image, which gives us the ability to perceive depth and judge distances.
Ablative therapy Treatment that removes or destroys the function of an organ, as in surgical removal of the ovaries.
Adrenal glands Part of the endocrine (hormonal) system, the adrenal glands are located above each kidney.
Articulating A movable, rotating joint, as in the human wrist or as in da Vinci’s patented EndoWrist® instruments.
Bariatrics The branch of medicine that deals with the causes, prevention, and treatment of obesity.
Benign Referring to abnormal cell growth that is not cancerous, i.e. not dangerous to health; not recurrent or progressive (especially of a tumor).
Biopsy A procedure in which a sample of tissue is removed and then examined under a microscope. The doctor will use transrectal ultrasound (TRUS) for guidance and insert a narrow needle through the wall of your rectum into several areas of your prostate gland. The needle then removes a cylinder of tissue, usually about 1/2-inch long and 1/16-inch across, that is sent to the laboratory to see if cancer is present.
BMI Body Mass Index (BMI) is a number derived by using height and weight measurements that gives a general indication if weight falls within a healthy range. BMI is calculated by dividing weight by height squared and multiplying by 703. You may also use our Body Mass Index Calculator.
Cancer grading If your biopsy shows the presence of prostate cancer, the pathologist assigns each tissue sample a grade, indicating how far the cells have traveled along the path from normal to abnormal.
Cancer staging The process used to find out if cancer has spread within the prostate or to other parts of the body.
Cervical cancer A malignancy of the cervix. Worldwide, it is the second most common cancer of women. It may present with vaginal bleeding, but symptoms may be absent until the cancer is in advanced stages, which has made cervical cancer the focus of intense screening efforts utilizing the Pap smear.
Cervix The neck of the uterus, which connects the uterus with the vagina.
Chemotherapy Chemotherapy, which kills fast-growing cells, has not proven particularly effective against slow-growing prostate cancer cells. Several promising new anticancer drugs are under study, being added to either surgery or radiation therapy for men with Stage III prostate cancer. Chemotherapy is also being tried in conjunction with hormonal therapy for men whose advanced cancers are no longer responsive to hormonal therapy alone.
Colectomy Surgical removal of part or all of the colon, performed to treat various conditions, including cancer, diverticulitis (inflammation of a herniation in the intestinal tract), inflammatory bowel disease, volvulus (abnormal twisting of the intestine causing obstruction) and fistulae (an abnormal duct or passage in the intestinal tract).
Conformal radiation therapy A 3-dimensional conformal radiation therapy (3D-CRT) uses sophisticated computer software to conform or shape the distribution of radiation beams to the 3-dimensional shape of the diseased prostate, sparing damage to normal tissue in the vicinity of treatment.
Conservative management Also called watchful waiting, conservative management, observation or surveillance, is based on the premise that cases of localized prostate cancers may advance so slowly that they are unlikely to cause men—especially older men—any problems during their lifetimes. Men who opt for conservative management have regular medical checkups and are asked to report any new symptoms to the doctor immediately.
Cryosurgery A procedure that uses liquid nitrogen to freeze and kill prostate cancer cells. During cryosurgery, a warming catheter inserted through the penis protects the urethra, and incontinence is seldom a problem. However, the overlying nerve bundles usually freeze, so most men become impotent. The procedure takes about 2 hours, requires anesthesia (either general or spinal), and requires 1 or 2 days in the hospital.
Digital rectal exam (DRE) During this exam, a physician inserts a gloved, lubricated finger into the rectum to feel for any irregularity that might suggest the presence of prostate cancer. The prostate gland is located just in front of the rectum, and most cancers begin in the back part of the gland that can be reached by a rectal exam. Although DRE is less effective than the PSA blood test in finding prostate cancer, it can sometimes find cancers in men with normal PSA levels.
Endometrial cancer Cancerous growth of the endometrium (lining of the uterus), which mainly occurs after the menopause, and presents with vaginal bleeding. A hysterectomy (surgical removal of the uterus) is generally performed to treat this condition.
Endometriosis A benign (noncancerous) growth of the uterine lining outside the uterus. Non-surgical treatment consists mainly of hormone therapy. If this cannot relieve symptoms, surgical intervention including laser treatment and hysterectomy offer more definitive treatment.
Endometrium The lining of the uterus.
Endoscope A small tubular lens device, usually attached to a video monitor, and video camera, and used to visualize the inside of the body.
Esophagus The tube or pipe that carries food from the throat to the stomach.
Fibroids A common benign (non-cancerous) tumor that develops within the uterine wall. Also called leiomyoma or myoma. Treatments include uterine fibroid embolization, which shrinks the fibroids; hysterectomy –the most frequent surgical treatment - and myomectomy.
Gastric bypass A weight-loss procedure performed by bariatric or general surgeons that utilizes stapling, suturing and other surgical techniques to create a very small stomach pouch, severely restricting the amount of food that can be consumed at one time. The rest of the stomach is bypassed and therefore no longer receives food.
Hormonal therapy Hormonal therapy combats prostate cancer by cutting off the supply of male hormones (androgens) such as testosterone that encourage prostate cancer growth. Hormonal control can be achieved by surgery to remove the testicles (the main source of testosterone) or by drugs.
Indication A reason to prescribe a drug or perform a procedure; "the presence of bacterial infection was an indication for the use of antibiotics."
Kidney The organs that remove waste from the blood, contribute to red blood cell production, and regulate blood pressure.
Laparoscopy A type of surgery using a surgical camera called a laparoscope or endoscope, which is inserted into one or more small incisions, to see inside the abdominal cavity. The surgeon views the affected area on a standard 2D video monitor.
Laparotomy Open abdominal surgery using a large incision.
Lymph nodes Bean-shaped structures scattered along vessels of the lymphatic system. These nodes act as filters, collecting bacteria or cancer cells that may travel through the body.
Malignant Characterized by progressive and uncontrolled cell growth (especially of a tumor); cancerous.
Menorrhagia Abnormally heavy or extended menstrual flow, which is often treatable with non-surgical options like nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), oral contraceptives (OCs) and intrauterine devices (IUDs); endometrial ablation, a minimally invasive option that is only offered to women who have finished childbearing. If these options cannot resolve excessive menstrual bleeding, hysterectomy provides a definitive treatment.
Minimally invasive surgery Minimally invasive surgery (also known as MIS, minimal access, keyhole surgery, laparoscopic, or endoscopic surgery) is intended to eliminate the most physically and emotionally traumatic elements of conventional open surgery, including pain and lengthy recovery. Advances in MIS allow surgeons access to affected tissues and organs through very small incisions.
Obesity Having a body mass index (BMI) greater than 40, or a BMI of 35 with two or more related health problems that increase risk for early death.
Open surgery Any surgical procedure performed using a large incision made for direct access to the affected organ or tissue.
Port A tiny (1-2 cm) incision, into which a cannula (hollow, rigid tube) is inserted to act as a conduit for an endoscope or minimally invasive surgical instruments, including da Vinci’s EndoWrist® instruments.
Prolapse Falling or slipping of the uterus towards or into the uterus.
Prostate The prostate gland, a key part of the male reproductive system, is linked closely with the urinary system. It is a small gland that secretes much of the liquid portion of semen, the milky fluid that transports sperm through the penis during ejaculation. The prostate is located just beneath the bladder, where urine is stored, and in front of the rectum. It encircles a section of the urethra.
Prostate cancer Cancer of the prostate, the male reproductive gland located below the bladder & in front of the rectum. Early prostate cancer usually causes no symptoms and is found by a PSA test and/or DRE. Some advanced prostate cancers can slow or weaken your urinary stream or make you need to urinate more often.
Prostatectomy Surgery to remove the prostate in order to treat and prevent the reoccurrence of prostate cancer. A secondary goal of prostatectomy is early return of urinary continence. Where applicable, a third goal is early return of sexual potency.
Prostate-specific Antigen (PSA) Testing a blood sample for the amount of PSA plays an important part in the early detection of prostate cancer. Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) is a substance made by the normal prostate gland and a small amount is found in blood. Most men have levels under 4 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL) of blood. When prostate cancer develops, the PSA level usually goes above 4.
Radiation therapy Radiation therapy uses high-energy x-rays, either beamed from a machine or emitted by radioactive seeds implanted in the prostate, to kill cancer cells. When prostate cancer is localized, radiation therapy serves as an alternative to surgery.
Robot-assisted or robotic surgery Surgery performed using the assistance of robotic technologies. Existing systems like da Vinci are designed to provide surgeons with enhanced capabilities rather than designed to operate on their own.
Sacrocolpopexy A common procedure for repairing vaginal vault prolapse and restoring the length and shape of the vaginal canal. A vaginal vault prolapse is a condition in which the uppermost part of the vagina slips downward. This type of prolapse is more likely to occur in patients who have had a prior hysterectomy.
Urethra The tube that carries urine from the bladder out through the penis. During ejaculation, semen is secreted by the prostate through small pores of the urethra's walls.
Uterus The central, muscular organ of the female reproductive system, which holds and nourishes the fertilized egg during pregnancy. At one end of the uterus -- or womb -- is the cervix, which opens into the vagina; the other end is connected on both sides to the fallopian tubes, which deliver eggs for implantation.