Da Vinci robot offers new minimally invasive surgery options to patients

St. John’s Health achieved an important milestone this week, performing the first local robotic-assisted surgeries in general surgery and urology. “Care close to home has many advantages,” said communications officer Karen Connelly. “With our recent investment in the da Vinci system, many patients will now have an additional local surgical option.” The da Vinci system was purchased with support from the St. John’s Health Foundation.

One important aspect of the da Vinci surgical robotics program is the great variety and number of patients who may benefit. Robotic-assisted surgery is the standard for some surgeries and becoming a standard for many more. At St. John’s, the first procedures performed were for abdominal hernia, appendix, and prostate disease. Other medical conditions that may be appropriate for robotic-assisted surgery are kidney and colorectal problems. In addition to general surgery and urology, St. John’s expects to add robotic-assisted gynecology surgery later this year. Robotic-assisted surgery can be a good choice for women needing hysterectomies or surgery for endometriosis, a frequently painful condition that can affect fertility.

“What sets the da Vinci apart is the precision, control, enhanced dexterity, and 3-D visualization for our surgeons,” said Becca Wartig, RN, Director of Surgical Services. “While we are extremely pleased to offer robotic-assisted surgery, surgery choice is a decision to be made in consultation with one’s physician. It’s not one-size-fits-all. Our surgeons have the expertise to help determine which treatments and procedures are right for each individual.”

Staff from throughout St. John’s had the opportunity this week to “test-drive” the new technology. In a friendly competition of dexterity and control, staff tried their hand at various activities utilizing a “demo” da Vinci robot. One participant, Chad Rothermel, put it this way, “I was really impressed. The reach is farther than what a human hand can do.” St. John’s looks forward to bringing the demonstration robot to community events in the future, as circumstances allow. “Experiencing it yourself really opens your eyes to the expanded capabilities it offers,” said Connelly.

For more information, go to www.stjohns.health/robotics.