February 2, 2010, ST. LOUIS - Surgeons at Barnes-Jewish Hospital hit a milestone in January with their 1,000th robotic surgery case using the da Vinci surgical system.
That number is thought to be impressive due to the short time frame surgeons have had to use the technology. Barnes-Jewish purchased the da Vinci machine in 2007, and recently upgraded to a new version – the da Vinci SI – in December 2009.
"I am excited about the progress we have made at Barnes-Jewish with robotic surgery,” says Sam Bhayani, MD, urologist at the Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine. “We have become worldwide leaders in the urological field, and it is captivating to see the wonderful progress made across all specialties.”
While prostate cancer is the primary use of the da Vinci technology around the country, surgeons at Barnes-Jewish are using the robot to perform other surgeries in a minimally invasive fashion. For example, Dr. Bhayani and his colleagues have pioneered the use of the robot for kidney cancer surgery.
“We are able to extract small tumors through small incisions in the process saving the patient’s kidney,” he says.
The small incisions are based on the robots three arms, two of which hold surgical instruments while a third is a camera allowing a surgeon seated at a nearby computer console to see while controlling the two surgical arms. Traditionally, such surgeries are performed as an open procedure with large incisions.
"Robotic surgery has allowed us to perform complex surgery without large painful incisions,” says Adam Kibel, MD, urologist at the Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine. “This technology is transforming our ability to treat patients."
Other areas of surgical medicine using the da Vinci at Barnes-Jewish include the removal of gynecologic cancers and gallbladders.
“The accomplishments have come because of the hard work and dedication of all members of the team: surgeons, OR staff, nurses, anesthesia providers, and the Barnes-Jewish administration,” says Dr. Bhayani. “Because of this teamwork, I am energized for future of high technology surgery. I am sure that Barnes-Jewish will continue to lead the region.”
Sally Favaloro, RN, manager of the pelvic pod that houses the da Vinci, says a team effort is why that will happen. “I am very proud of all of the hard work and effort they take each and every day, which makes for an outstanding patient outcome and experience,” she says.
“The team is very familiar with the equipment and everything runs like a well-oiled machine,” says Michael Awad, MD, PhD, Washington University minimally invasive surgeon at Barnes-Jewish. “In fact, they are even better than robotics teams at other peer institutions I’ve seen, which were very good as well.”
Since the introduction of da Vinci in 2007, surgeons are excited about its move into the routine care of patients. “The 1,000th case is just the beginning,” says Dr. Kibel. “With more patients seeking robotic surgery, I believe we will reach 2,000 cases before we know it.”