11/16/09 — Surgical robot helps hospital, patients

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Surgical robot helps hospital, patients

By Laura Collins
Published in News on November 16, 2009 1:46 PM

Wayne Memorial Hospital is taking a step into the future.

The hospital is now using the da Vinci S Surgical System to perform "robot-assisted" gynecological and urological surgeries. The da Vinci is a machine that consists of a surgeon's console, a patient cart with four interactive robotic arms and a high definition magnifying screen.

"We can now offer world class services here in Wayne County and you don't have to leave your hometown hospital to have these types of surgeries," said Shirley Harkey, vice president of patient services/chief nursing officer. "It follows the mission of the hospital to provide up-to-date technology."

The way robot-assisted surgery works with the da Vinci, is the physician still performs the surgery, but instead of standing over the patient, the surgeon sits at the console away from the patient table. Using hand controls, the surgeon can direct two robotic arms positioned above the patient. The arms can rotate at 360 degrees. Cameras, which are also attached to the patient cart, are able to magnify the surgery more than 10 times which the surgeon can watch from the console.

When compared to traditional surgery, with the da Vinci, patients typically have shorter hospital stays, less pain, less risk of infection, less blood loss, fewer transfusions, less scarring, faster recovery and quicker return to normal daily activities, according to Amy Cain, director of public relations.

"The main advantage is seeing my patients get better faster," said Dr. Joseph Flynn, of Goldsboro OB/GYN Associates.

Flynn has completed five surgeries using the da Vinci machine including removing ovarian cysts and hysterectomies.

"Both of those procedures normally would have been done through a very large incision," he said. "Instead of an 8-inch incision, we can do it through several half-inch incisions."

Flynn said a hysterectomy is "very difficult to perform laparoscopically" because of the angles. A laparoscopic surgery is a minimally invasive surgery assisted by a video camera and very small instruments. Patients who before were not candidates for a laparoscopic hysterectomy become candidates with the da Vinci.

"The instruments also allow greater dexterity and greater control," he said. "You can also have greater vision. You can actually see things in 3-D and the instrument it uses is double-jointed, so you can get angles you normally wouldn't be able to."

Dr. John Kaspar of Wayne Urological Associates said implementing the da Vinci machine is important for the hospital to stay up to date.

"It's beneficial because we need to keep up with the quality of care that's acceptable around the United States," he said. "It shows that we have a medical staff that's trying to keep up with modern techniques."

Kaspar said that the machine magnifies the surgery which allows for better accuracy.

"You can see the nerves much better and much clearer, so we can save erections," he said, concerning urological surgery.

Teresa Corbett, administrative director of surgical services, said benefits of the program extend to the physicians and nurses as well.

"It provides physicians and the staff to expand their education," she said. "It's very exciting to be in there and watching the procedure. You're seeing a physician sitting at a console a few feet away performing a surgery on a patient."

There are currently 30 other robot-assisted surgical systems in the state. In areas surrounding Wayne County, Greenville has three, Raleigh/Durham has eight, Rocky Mount has one and Wilmington has one.