JCMC introduces robotic surgery through belly button

10:44 am | July 13, 2012

JOHNSON CITY — It’s always a good thing when you can make the best even better. That’s what Johnson City Medical Center (JCMC) has done with its new version of the da Vinci Robotic Surgical System. The new da Vinci Si offers the latest 3D technology, is upgradeable and, among other things, allows surgeons to remove the gallbladder from a single incision in the belly button. It also has an EndoWrist One Vessel Sealer that gives surgeons full control of vessel sealing.

Photo Contributed
Chip Thomason (left) and Dr. Trey Robertson (right) with the new da Vinci Si Robotic Surgical System.

The new da Vinci has replaced JCMC’s original da Vinci machine, which was the first one in the region in 2008. The new equipment offers greater precision, increased range of motion, enhanced dexterity and improved access to the gallbladder without harming surrounding structures. This technology also limits movement at the surgical site, minimizing trauma and postoperative pain.

“There is nothing better on the market,” said Chip Thomason, senior specialty services coordinator of robotics at JCMC. “This is the latest and greatest. This allows true 3D images with the best quality. It allows you to get almost down to the cellular level. And there’s a lot less blood loss.”

JCMC’s new da Vinci is one of only 14 such new machines operating right now. JCMC was the first hospital in the region to offer da Vinci surgery in 2008 and is the only one to have this new version today.

The da Vinci Surgical System has fast become the industry’s gold standard because of its great benefits. It enables surgeons to perform delicate and complex operations through a few tiny incisions with increased vision, precision, dexterity and control.

The surgeon sits at an ergonomically designed console to perform the operation, right next to the operating table, where a separate part of the da Vinci system is in direct contact with the patient. There are four interactive robotic arms and a high-definition 3D vision system. State-of-the-art robotic technology allows the surgeon’s hand movements to be scaled, filtered and translated into precise movements of instruments working inside the patient’s body.

Thomason said JCMC has done nearly 900 da Vinci surgeries since getting the first machine. For the patient, these less-invasive operations mean shorter hospitalization time, quicker return to normal activity, less pain and less blood loss than traditional open surgery or even laparoscopy.

Dr. Trey Robertson is one of JCMC’s 22 surgeons trained to use the da Vinci. He described da Vinci robotic surgery as “more efficient, it’s safer, and for the surgeon it’s much easier. And with this new Single-Site surgery, it’s essentially scarless gallbladder surgery.”

The new machine means kidney surgery can be more precise as well. Rather than doing a full nephrectomy, or kidney removal, the surgeon can perform a partial nephrectomy to preserve more of the kidney tissue, which can help to prevent future kidney disease or even dialysis. The new da Vinci also cuts down on set-up time for each surgery. What used to take 45 minutes to an hour can now be done in 15 to 30 minutes.

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