Robotic system changing heart, gynecological, and urological surgery

New technology at Conway Regional is giving women less-painful options for what can traditionally be a difficult procedure with a lengthy recovery time.
Obstetrician-Gynecologist Phillip Gullic, MD, has performed six hysterectomies using the new da Vinci S HD Robotic Surgical System with several more scheduled into February. Obstetrician-Gynecologist Carole Jackson, MD, has also begun performing the da Vinci hysterectomy. Brandie Martin, MD, Andrew Cole, MD, Debra Lawrence, MD, Amy Johnson, MD, all of whom are OB Gyns, are scheduled for training.
While it is not designed to replace less invasive vaginal hysterectomies, Dr. Gullic has found it to be a godsend for women whose physical condition requires more invasive hysterectomies.
Conway Regional acquired the highly-acclaimed, $1.8 million da Vinci system in October of 2008. "This is the latest enhancement to our minimally invasive surgery program. It is part of our ongoing effort to provide the most advanced tools and technology for physicians and patients," said Jim Lambert, President and CEO of Conway Regional Health System.
The da Vinci system enables the physician to use a set of miniature robotic "arms" to perform minimally invasive surgery. The surgeon looks through a high definition view screen while manipulating the robotic arms at a distance of about 20 feet from the patient.
"It's really taken laparoscopy to a new level. It is much more precise and visualization is much better, almost 3 D," said Dr. Gullic. Aside from the advantages for the surgeon, da Vinci offers tremendous benefits for patients, such as Kim Greer of Clinton . Kim left the hospital the next day without prescription pain medication and returned to work shortly afterward. She was the third patient at Conway Regional to receive the da Vinci hysterectomy.
"The funniest thing is the nurses kept checking on me and asking me if I needed any pain medicine," recalled Ms. Greer. "They are still getting used to taking care of patients after this procedure. I never had any abdominal pain. My mother thought I was hallucinating. There were four little incisions and they healed fast." The next morning she went home and was back to work as a loan assistant at First Service Bank in Clinton the next week. Her co-workers were surprised. "They were amazed and could not believe that I came back the next week after a full hysterectomy," she said.
Other uses for da Vinci
A number of urological procedures have been performed as well using the da Vinci system including  prostatectomies (prostate removal, usually due to cancer) by Craig Shirley, MD, Jeffrey Marotte, MD, and James France, MD. Dr. Marotte has also performed partial removal of a kidney using the device.
The da Vinci system will be an option for certain cardiovascular procedures, such as heart valve repairs and certain bypass operations, at Conway Regional in February. Cardiothoracic Surgeon E.J. Chauvin, MD, will train in the use of the da Vinci system at the end of January.
Gynecological, urological and cardiovascular surgery may just be the beginning. Much like its artist/inventor/innovator namesake, the da Vinci surgical system is diversified and holds the possibility for faster recovery time and less pain in a number of other surgical areas.