da Vinci Robot

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Thursday, 30 May 2013 23:02

New and improved technology is being developed every day. It seems almost impossible to keep up with the latest gadgets and devices with the most up-to-date features that you just have to have. Every aspect of the world, from business to recreation, is being affected by the latest and greatest technology we have to offer. So what do these advancements have to offer the medical field? In this article I would like to focus on one device which sparked my interest, the Da Vinci Surgical Robot which is provided by Intuitive Surgical. It looks about like what you have pictured in your head: a giant robotic octopus with mechanical arms that are controlled by a surgeon. However, its capabilities are tremendous! The Da Vinci robot is an entire system, from the robotic arms performing the surgery to the surgeon’s controls directing the orchestra of devices. This system provides a third viable option for surgery besides the typical open surgery and laparoscopic surgery.

The Da Vinci robot is a minimally invasive form of surgery. Results show smaller cuts, less blood loss, faster recovery time, and less pain which all lead to a happier patient. The robot works through the surgeon’s movements. It mimics what the doctors hands do, but his movements are scaled, filtered, and translated; resulting in a more precise operation. It makes a very small entry cut and then uses a highly developed 3D HD camera for the surgeon to precisely see what he is doing. It has multiple arms which have the different necessary tools needed to complete the surgery. The Da Vinci Robot can be used for many different types of surgery including: cardiac, thoracic, urology, gynecologic, colorectal, pediatric and general surgical processes.  The surgeon does have to go through a fairly extensive training process to be qualified to use the Da Vinci system since it is a very complex piece of machinery.

There are quite a few benefits for having a Da Vinci Medical System at your hospital. It opens a new door for patients who do not want an open surgery or laparoscopic surgery due to the higher risk of infections. It appeals to many people due to its minimally invasive type of surgery, leading to less scarring, pain, blood loss, and most importantly, faster recovery times. There are also many benefits for a surgeon using the Da Vinci System. While in standard surgery, there is a pool of blood which accumulates due to the large incision needed for the surgeon to see inside the patient while operating. However, with the Da Vinci, the small incision doesn’t leave the surgeon with that pool of blood leading to much higher visibility. The robot has a 3D HD camera which gives the surgeon much more clear vision than the surgeon has ever been able to see through laparoscopic surgery. Another benefit is that the machine transfers the movements of the surgeon, but with much more accuracy so that there are no accidental slips, drops of instruments, or other mistakes that can damage the inside of the body. Lastly, the machine records all surgery information which is transferred to a computer. All of the patient’s data from surgery can then be digitally filed and managed under the patient records in the hospital’s Electronic Health Record (EHR).

Some may say that this sounds too good to be true. In some ways, there are some drawbacks to the Da Vinci Robot. The Da Vinci system is a machine; machines can malfunction. Some have reported errors in the robot which have led to lawsuits. Some examples range from the robot striking a patient in the face while the patient was being operated on, to one case where the robot would not let go of a piece of tissue leading to some bodily damage. Some cases say that it may be linked to some patients’ deaths. Some surgeons say that they do not prefer the use of the robot because there is no tactile feel involved in the surgery. They feel much more confident using their hands rather than some joysticks. The surgeons also have to use much more caution while doing the operation through a robot because it will do whatever the surgeon does, no matter if it was on accident or on purpose. The hospital also has to charge their patients more if they have this form of surgery because the Da Vinci Surgical System starts at a retail price of a steep $1.8 million as well as paying for the surgeon’s extensive training.

Overall, after all of the reading I did to research the Da Vinci Surgical Robot, I saw many drawbacks, but I saw more positives that heavily outweigh the negatives. The robot is installed in over 2,025 different hospitals around the world, growing more than 25% annually. Around 450,000 Da Vinci procedures were performed in 2012, about 25% higher compared to 2011. The Da Vinci System is the top option for minimally invasive hysterectomy in the U.S. for benign reasons, and the top treatment for women facing gynecologic cancer. For prostate cancer patients, Da Vinci Surgery is used in four out of five radical prostatectomies in the U.S. according to their website. It is easy to find a Da Vinci system near you; all you have to do is go to their website and type in your zip code.   

Here at CoreTech, we are able to help with a few different aspects of implementing the Da Vinci Robot. CoreTech can assist with integrating the Da Vinci’s software and your hospital’s EHR. We can work with your medical and support staff and ensure the smooth transition of bringing the Robot into use and linking the Robot’s data to fit into your EHR providing support every step of the way.

~ Scott Poynter