‘Robot-assisted surgery’ debuts at Carson Tahoe Health | nnbw.com

‘Robot-assisted surgery’ debuts at Carson Tahoe Health

Anne Knowles
Dr. Kira Brooks demonstrates the use of the Da Vinci Xi, which is the latest generation of robotic surgery technology, at the Carson Tahoe Regional Medical Center.
Jim Grant | Nevada Appeal

Carson Tahoe Health’s new surgery robot is already hard at work.

Since being installed in November, the $2 million da Vinci Xi robotic surgical system has been used in five surgeries at the medical center, and five more were scheduled as of mid-December.

“As more people learn about it and have friends and family who have surgeries using it, more people are asking for it,” said Michelle Joy, the hospital’s chief operations officer. “It should really be called robot-assisted surgery.”

Joy is referring to a common misconception the robot is programmed to perform surgery, and thus, humans are removed from the operating room.

“As more people learn about it and have friends and family who have surgeries using it, more people are asking for it.”Michelle Joy

Instead, the surgeon operates the robot from a console next to the patient table using hand-operated controls and a viewing system that gives the physician a three-dimensional close-up look inside the body.

Robotic surgery improves on conventional laparoscopic surgery, in that a surgeon watches a monitor to see inside the patient while using instruments that work in the opposite direction of the way they’re handled, making it less intuitive.

“It is a much better, fine-tuned instrument,” said Dr. Wilfredo Torres, obstetrician/gynecologist, who has performed surgeries using the system.

For the patient, recovery may be quicker because the system puts less strain on the body.

“I tell patients I can see a lot better, I have better dexterity and there seems to be less pain after surgery,” said Torres.

The robotic system is first being used for gynecological surgery because it’s well suited for it, and several ob/gyn doctors at the medical center were already trained on it.

Next, once surgeons in other specialties are trained, the system will be used for general surgery, starting with urological work.