SJF Website_Cancer Care_da Vinci Surgical System console

Valley robotics leader provides faster recovery

Instead of standing over the patient, St. Joseph's surgeons sit in a comfortable chair in front of the da Vinci Surgical System console, peering through a surgical microscope at a magnified 3D image of the surgical site displayed on a high-resolution screen. With a more precise view of the surgical area, the surgeon guides the da Vinci’s robotic arms and tiny, highly maneuverable surgical instruments through a small incision rather than making large cuts or incisions in the body. This technique allows our team to diagnose and treat conditions earlier and faster and with less complications than traditional surgery.

For St. Joseph’s physicians, what was once a medical novelty is now standard medical practice today.

SJF Website_Cancer Care_da Vinci Surgical System console  (1)

Experiencing the benefits firsthand

Laura Tarrant learned of these benefits firsthand when she underwent surgery at St. Joseph's. Tarrant, a registered nurse who works in the Division of Surgery and Pelvic Pain at St. Joseph’s, was diagnosed with endometriosis more than 20 years ago. 

Endometriosis is a female health disorder that can cause pain, irregular bleeding and infertility. Over the years, Tarrant underwent one open surgery and six laparoscopic procedures for her condition.

She recently underwent a final operation to remove a remaining ovary. The operation required five small incisions—compared to the three larger incisions in a standard laparoscopic procedure. Dr. Desai was able to remove the ovary despite a “very scarred abdomen” and even resect a recurrence of endometriosis in a small place that would not have been accessible using other surgical methods.

Tarrant was amazed when she woke up after the operation. “I felt around on my belly, and I had barely any pain. And when I saw the incisions, I thought, ‘Wow, that’s really small.’” She was up walking eight hours later.

Minimally invasive leaders

The da Vinci Surgical System has become the go-to technology for many urological and gynecological surgeries, including hysterectomies, ovary removal, appendectomies, bowel resections, prostate removals and fibroid tumor removals. Dr. Hibner, who in 2009 performed more surgeries using the da Vinci system than any other physician in the country, estimates that he uses the system in 60 to 70 percent of his cases.

Other specialties are also exploring the system’s possibilities. St. Joseph's Norton Thoracic Institute is already the valley leader in minimally invasive robotic surgeries - having already performed over 1,000 minimally invasive robotic surgeries, including the first ever U.S. robotic esophageal surgery. An example of thier expertise is robotic bronchoscopy, a breakthrough technique that allows our interventional pulmonology team to see and biopsy parts of the lung that were previously inaccessible.

The future of surgery

But for the appropriate case, robotic-assisted laparoscopy offers several distinct advantages over other surgery techniques, these surgeons say. These include enhanced visualization, thanks to 3D images of the surgical field; wristed instruments that have more range of motion than the human hand; a computer system that scales and fine tunes the surgeon’s hand movements, eliminating tremor; and a more comfortable working environment for the surgeon.

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