Robotic assisted surgery touts rapid recovery - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Robotic assisted surgery touts rapid recovery

More than 600,000 women across the U.S. undergo hysterectomies each year.  Patients seeking relief from heavy bleeding during menstrual periods and severe abdominal pain, sometimes caused by endometriosis have traditionally experienced highly invasive procedures to correct the problems.   

Large incisions and extended recovery times are just a few of the downsides seen during normal operating procedures.  Now, a robot is providing minimally invasive laparoscopic surgery with far greater benefits, according to doctors and patients.  

Gynecologist Sylvester McRae, a 20 year veteran, performed his first surgery using the Da Vinci Si HD Robotic System in October.  "Initially, I was a skeptic. I have been doing successful laparoscopic surgery for years and really did not think this could add anything to what I was doing," explained McRae.

Dr. McRae said after visiting a couple of facilities and a lab, he was positively impressed and started orientating his staff and patients.  "I find that all the time when I talked to patients and office staff, they initially thought that R2D2 was being programmed and I guess I would be in the lounge sipping coffee."

It's definitely not R2D2; this robot cannot operate on its own. Dr. McRae uses his arms and feet to direct the robot's every move from a console located about 4 feet from the patient's bedside.

The robot is integrated with a 3-D high definition camera which allows more visualization. "Things are magnified to the point, it's almost like microscopic surgery; it's almost like you're standing inside the patient's abdomen."

The amount of blood a patient loses during the robotic laparoscopic procedure pales in comparison to the hemorrhaging a patient experiences during a traditional surgery. Experts say the difference amounts to the size of a teaspoon and a coffee cup.

Dr. McRae's patient, Linda Klima, agreed to let our WTVM cameras inside the operating room at St. Francis Hospital.  Klima, 38, was diagnosed with endometriosis and decided to have a hysterectomy. After putting the laparoscopic trocars in the robot and inserting the instruments, the robot is attached and the surgery began.  It took more than an hour to remove Klima's uterus.

A week after the surgery, we met Klima at Dr. McRae's office for her first post-op visit.  "I drove myself to the doctor today. The day after the surgery, I was able to walk around. It's amazing."

Robotic Surgery can also be used for other procedures including head and neck, urology and colorectal surgeries.  The Medical Center began offering the state of the art technology in January.

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