Added Eyes and Arms: Robotic Surgery: February 17, 2012

The trend in surgery can be summed up as: faster, smaller, better. Robotic surgical systems are delivering on the premise. Allowing surgeons to operate with extreme precision, through small holes. Offering the patient less trauma and a shorter recovery time.

“The da Vinci robot is an example of a instrument that allows surgeons to do procedures in a minimally invasive way that otherwise would require an open procedure,” says Dr. Larry Antonucci, Chief Operating Officer for Lee Memorial Health System.

The da Vinci robot looks a bit like an octopus, with a series of robotic appendages. Some act as arms during surgery, another operates a high definition camera. The surgeon sits a few feet away manning the tools from a computer console.

“I would say 90% of the prostate procedures that we’re doing, we’re doing now robotically,” says Dr. Paul Bretton, a urologist on the medical staff of Lee Memorial Health System.

The robot has seven ranges of motion and can perform complex movements. It’s used in cardiac and gynecological cases and for urological procedures, including kidney cancer.

“You can remove the tumor and be able to sew it back together. The da Vinci offers us a minimally invasive way to perform laparoscopy with the ability to sew,” says Dr. Omar Benitez, a urologist on the medical staff of Lee Memorial Health System.

Monika Martinez spent only one night in the hospital after a hysterectomy and went home with little pain and nothing to look at.

“No stitches it’s unbelievable. It’s five little things in my skin, in the stomach and they’re healed. I mean a week after and they were perfect.”

The da Vinci system is an investment in patient health. It comes with a million dollar plus price tag and requires a dedicated operating room.

“There’s considerable expenditure of equipment and staff to make these procedures work. But again when you’re doing the things you’re doing to change peoples’ lives, that’s our mission here and that’s what we do,” says Dr. Antonucci.

Being on the front lines of medicine requires the tools of the trade.