By Stephanie Stahl

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Pumpkins are helping train surgeons work with robotic equipment. The popularity of robotic surgery is growing for some types of operations because it can help reduce blood loss, scarring, infection, pain and recovery time.

Practicing robotic surgery on a pumpkin — just in time for Halloween.

The use of robotically-assisted surgical devices is increasing because they allow surgeons to perform invasive procedures.

“So what we’re trying to do here is minimize all of that and get patients home sooner with much smaller incisions,” Dr. Vedra Augenstein said.

The mechanical arms of the robot are equipped with cameras and surgical tools, all inserted into the site with small incisions.

The operation is performed with the surgeon moving the robotic arms from a control panel that provides three-dimensional high definition views, which helps them differentiate between vessels and nerves.

“It’s much more accurate, takes away the tremors. You can suture with much thinner sutures, as thin as a human hair,” Augenstein said.

With a jack-o’-lantern, this surgical team uses the pumpkin seeds as if they’re brain tumors that need to be removed.

It’s less invasive compared to traditional surgery, which usually leaves behind bigger scarring and longer recovery times.

“The patient would have to have very large incisions and wound complications, take a lot of pain medicine,” Augenstein said.

But robotic surgery is only appropriate for certain types of operations, and like with traditional surgery, it also carries risks.

Because of the sophisticated equipment, robotic surgery is more expensive and while it’s growing in popularity, doctors say it’s not always better than traditional surgery.

Stephanie Stahl