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Format: 04/16/2014
Format: 04/16/2014

News

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Surgeons find robot requires training

Friday, July 10th, 2009

By Pohla Smith

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

With his hands moving among controls, his sock-covered feet shifting among wooden pedals, and his eyes locked onto a computer monitor, James Garver looked like he was playing a wigged-out version of Bach on a high-tech organ.

But what the 57-year-old gynecological surgeon really was doing June 11 in an Allegheny General Hospital surgical suite was a robotic-assisted laparoscopic hysterectomy on his 28-year-old patient, Tinisha Nelson, of the North Side.

His "organ" was the control console of the da Vinci Surgical System. The hand controls operated the robotic arms -- three instrument arms and one endoscope arm -- by which Dr. Garver was removing Mrs. Nelson's uterus. His feet controlled cauterization and clutch pedals that allow the surgeon to change from one operating arm to another and to help manipulate the laparoscope. The monitor showed him Mrs. Nelson's reproductive organs in three dimensions and magnified at 10 to 15 times normal size.

Pulled up to the leg end of the operating table was the patient-side cart to which the instrument arms were attached. A supporting surgical team comprising a physician assistant, a scrub nurse, a circulating nurse and a nurse anesthetist stood ready to assist with tasks such as equipping the arms with the proper instruments; positioning the endoscope; and moving the uterus as the surgeon was freeing it from an ovary.

The da Vinci, developed and produced by Intuitive Surgical Inc., of Sunnyvale, Calif., was first used for a gall bladder removal in Europe in early 1997. Then in July of that year, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved its use for surgical assistance. In July 2000 it was approved for laparoscopic procedures, and, a company spokeswoman said, it was approved for use in a radical prostatectomy in May 2001. It was approved for gynecological procedures in 2005.

It was, and sometimes still is, greeted with skepticism by gynecologic surgeons who do traditional laparoscopic procedures by hand.

 

To read more, visit the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette web site.
 

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