Robotic surgery at St John Medical Center in Tulsa

Monday, January 10th 2005, 10:28 am
By: News On 6

A new option for men who need prostate cancer surgery. St John Medical Center is the first in the state to offer a minimally invasive robotic procedure.

As News on 6 reporter Rick Wells explains, this new surgery can reduce recovery time and produce a better outcome.

The robot, the de Vinci Surgical System, will give the surgeon the opportunity to perform a more precise procedure and the patient a chance at a better outcome.

Urologist Dr Richard Saint: "The console is like a video game it's like the ultimate video game." Dr. Saint is apart of the Urology Robotic surgery team and says the same skills which allow us to master video games are the ones which help surgeons perform robotic procedures.

There are five foot pedals and two hand controls which allow the surgeon to operate the four surgical arms. One is a camera. The two primary controls which the surgeon operates with his own hands. There is also, what in effect is a third hand, which in a way allows the surgeon to be his own assistant. “The person sitting at the console or command module has complete control."

The unit cost about a million and a half dollars and surgeons at St John have been using it since October. About 16% of men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetimes; some of them may be candidates for this new procedure.

Dr Thomas Broughan with the OU College of Medicine: "It's a safe technology, but what we are looking at are outcomes. Does it give a better clinical and economic outcome?" In many cases it does, it's less invasive, there's less blood loss, less pain, and faster healing. In the case of prostate removal, patients may have a better chance of avoiding incontinence or impotence often associated with prostate surgery.

Imagine all that time spent playing video games may actually be paying off.

St John is only using the de Vinci robot for some gastric by-pass procedures and prostate surgery. Other hospitals have used it for kidney surgeries and some cardiac procedures.