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University of Iowa News Release

 

March 3, 2010

NOTE: Image shows da Vinci robotic surgery system. Robotic surgery uses tiny incisions to insert a camera and surgical instruments into a patient's body. The surgeon then views three-dimensional images of the patient's insides from a video console and uses fingertip controls to remotely manipulate the surgical instruments inside the patient's body. In this image, a foam cushion sits where the patient would lie.

Robotic surgery on the rise at UI Hospitals and Clinics

davinciA knack for playing video games might not seem like the ideal preparation for becoming a surgeon, but for one type of surgery, it does appear to be a leg up, according to David Bender, M.D., assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics.

Bender is referring to robotic surgery, which uses tiny incisions to insert a camera and surgical instruments into a patient's body. The surgeon then uses a video console to view three-dimensional images of the patient's insides and uses fingertip controls to remotely manipulate the surgical instruments inside the patient's body.

Since robotic surgery was introduced at UI Hospitals and Clinics in 2002, UI surgeons have performed more than 1,300 procedures. The annual numbers continue to climb -- more than 200 procedures done in each of the past three years -- as the technology becomes more popular with both doctors and patients.

Bender and his colleague Fadi Joudi, M.D., UI assistant professor of urology, are co-directors of the minimally invasive robotic surgery service at UI Hospitals and Clinics. The group includes surgeons from obstetrics and gynecology, urology, cardiothoracic surgery, and surgery, as well as surgeons with UI Children's Hospital. The surgeons share two da Vinci robotic surgery systems.

Joudi describes robotically assisted surgery as minimally invasive (laparoscopic) surgery "enhanced." In traditional laparoscopic surgery, surgical instruments are attached to the ends of long metal arms and placed inside the patient through small incisions. The surgeon then touches instruments directly to do the surgery.

The robotic system enhances this minimally invasive approach. The doctor does not touch the surgical instruments directly but moves them by using a computer that translates his or her hand movements. This approach greatly increases precision and even allows movements that are not possible for a mere human wrist.

Compared to traditional laparoscopic surgery, robot-assisted surgery often results in faster recovery time and shorter hospital stays for patients as well as significantly less blood loss. All of these advantages can help reduce costs.

"Robotic surgery has become the standard choice for certain surgeries such as removal of a cancerous prostate and surgeons continue to apply the system to a broader range of surgical situations," Joudi said.

"We want to continue to incorporate this as a tool like any other in our operating rooms," Bender added.

Surgeons in-training are now learning this technique in addition to the more traditional approaches they currently must master. UI Hospitals and Clinics is unique in Iowa in that it is the only teaching hospital that offers residency and fellowship programs that teach robotic surgery.

As part of this on-going commitment to fostering expertise in robotic surgery, the UI plans to establish a skills lab with a third robotic system dedicated to the training of surgical residents and fellows.

PHOTOS/VIDEO: Additional photos and video of the da Vinci robotic surgery system are available from Jennifer Brown jennifer-l-brown@uiowa.edu, 319-356-7124

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Health Care Media Relations, 200 Hawkins Drive, Room W317 GH, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-1009

MEDIA CONTACT: Jennifer Brown, 319-356-7124, jennifer-l-brown@uiowa.edu