Robot Assisted Surgery is Saving Lives at Mercy

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DES MOINES, Iowa -- The da Vinci Xi Surgical System is a revolutionary way of doing surgery.

"Normally, we have always done surgery for several decades, almost going back a century, by going between the ribs, spreading the ribs wide, and taking out the piece of the offending lung," said Iowa Heart Center cardiothoracic surgeon, Dr. Ganga Prabhakar. "And, that`s worked well for many years, but it's unfortunately come with a lot of pain for the patient and recovery has been slow."

Then came telescopes, and now robots.

"It's allowed us to make smaller incisions," said Dr. Prabhakar. "It's allowed us to do better sampling of lymph nodes, and because the robot moves with so much degrees of freedom, more than a hand even, it allows us to reach the parts that we cannot normally reach with our hand."

For patients, that means a faster recovery time and less pain. Why is it less painful?

"The main reason is we do not spread the ribs," said Dr. Prabhakar. "And, the other reason is we stay between the ribs and we stay away from the nerve..."

But, as amazing as the robot is, it shouldn't get all of the credit, because it would be nothing without the surgeon that operates it.

"That's why we call it robot assisted surgery, rather than robotic surgery," said Dr. Prabhakar. "Because sometimes when we say robotic surgery, some of the people think that the robot is doing the surgery, and we may or may not even be there. But, the correct terminology is robotic assisted. So, we are always there in the room. We are always just two, three, four, five feet away from the patient, and we are continuously monitoring and all the movements are done by us."


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