Avera McKennan Hospital has been successfully using robotics in surgery for more than 3 years. Earlier this year they added a second daVinci surgical system, the next generation in this technology. Nancy Naeve Brown and Photojournalist Jeff Cleland were allowed in the operating room to watch a total hysterectomy using this new high tech system.
Jean Ann Hentges of Sioux Falls has endometrial cancer. It's when cancer cells grow in the lining of the uterus most commonly in postmenopausal women. Avera Gynecologic Oncologist Dr. Luis Rojas is Jean Ann's surgeon
Dr. Rojas says, "The recommended surgery is hysterectomy including the cervix, uterus, ovaries since they are the source of hormones 90% of these cancers are hormonally avid so we remove the ovaries and we remove lymph nodes."
Jean Ann says, "He's the best. I'm at ease about it because I know I'm in good hands and I know he'll do what's best for me."
Jean Ann also knows Dr. Rojas is not only the best at what he does, he has the best tools at his fingertips; the daVinci Si. It's the latest in robotic surgery and Avera McKennan is the first and only hospital in the state to offer this type of technology.
Dr. Rojas says, "What I've noticed with the new software is the ergonomics, surgery is more efficient. I think I've been able to drop down 20 minutes in comparing one to the other because of how the instruments swap out. It's just more efficient with this system. Visualization is definitely better."
Advantages for the patients is when you have laparoscopic robotic assisted surgery it's less surgical trauma since it involves only a few incisions that are 1 to 2 centimeters in size for the insertion of robotic arms, the camera and miniature surgical instruments. Plus, there is less blood loss, less pain and faster recovery time.
Jean Ann says, "Recovery is a day or two in the hospital and then 2 to 3 weeks vs. 6 weeks if I would have to be cut open. Everyone at work was like take the 2 to 3 week option and I was like yeah, that's kind of what I'm hoping for too. "
It's odd to watch the surgery since Dr. Rojas sits at a separate console away from the patient. What he's looking at is magnified images in 3-D with real depth perception. He controls the robotic arms through finger holds. Dr. Rojas is good, but he admits, this equipment provides surgical dexterity and precision that is far greater than the human hand.
Dr. Rojas says, "If it makes me do a better job for the patient than yes, it's a benefit."
Adding a second daVinci system will allow even more patients to experience those benefits.