Minimally invasive robotic surgery isn’t the right option for every patient and every procedure. But surgeons are expanding the possibilities and passing the benefits on to more and more patients. Notably, surgeons at the Christ Hospital Health Network recently completed their 10,000th surgical procedure using the advanced da Vinci Surgical System. As that number has increased, so has the scope of options for using the system.
“Our gynecologists were at the forefront of robotic surgery,” says Janice Rafferty, MD, the Chief of Colon and Rectal Surgery and Director of Oncology Services at The Christ Hospital Health Network. “But the use has expanded to multiple other specialties. The possibilities are almost endless.”
The Christ Hospital has five da Vinci systems between the Mt. Auburn and Liberty Township locations. Surgeons at these locations use them to perform a variety of procedures including:
“Our heart surgeons perform some complicated surgeries using the da Vinci system that are amazing to watch, even for me,” says Dr. Rafferty. “It’s incredible how the technology can be safely used on such an important organ through such a tiny incision, all while the heart is still beating.”
How the da Vinci surgical system works
The da Vinci surgical system utilizes very small instruments and a high-definition, three-dimensional camera that are inserted into the body via one-to-two-millimeter incisions. The surgeon manually controls the instruments from a console and the system makes very precise movements in real-time based on the surgeon’s wrist and finger movements. The console also features a highly-magnified monitor, giving the surgeon increased visibility over traditional surgery.
“We have better visualization thanks to the 3D imaging technology,” Dr. Rafferty says. “We can see things on the screen more clearly than with the human eye because of the ability to get the camera closer to the location of the surgery. It also allows everybody in the room to have the same viewpoint as the surgeon.”
The system has numerous safety features built in and is completely controlled by the surgeon.
“There’s no pre-programming or artificial intelligence involved,” Dr. Rafferty says. “The surgeon controls everything. We’re still doing the same surgeries we’ve done for years, but with much smaller incisions and without the need to insert hands and wrists inside the patient’s abdomen. It’s incredibly safe.”
The benefits of robotic surgery
Procedures performed with robotic assistance are significantly less invasive than those performed through traditional methods. That means smaller incisions, no need for hands and arms to enter the body through an incision and less blood loss. These result in notable benefits to patients including:
While surgeons realize the obvious benefits of better precision and visualization, they also have the benefit of less fatigue during longer procedures as they operate from a comfortable, seated position versus standing over the patient for long period of time.
Robotic surgery isn’t the right option for every patient and every procedure, but expand the applications for the technology, they’re passing the benefits on to more and more patients.
“It’s really an incredible modality,” Dr. Rafferty says. “That’s why we’re well on our way to the next 10,000.”