Metro-East News

Robotic surgery system showcased in St. Elizabeth’s demo

Minimally invasive da Vinci xi Surgical System at St. Elizabeth's hospital

The next generation in robot-assisted laparoscopic surgery was on display for the public Monday afternoon at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Belleville. Staff have been using the da Vinci Xi Surgical System on patients for three weeks. The robot-assis
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The next generation in robot-assisted laparoscopic surgery was on display for the public Monday afternoon at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Belleville. Staff have been using the da Vinci Xi Surgical System on patients for three weeks. The robot-assis

A robot-assisted surgery system newly in use at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Belleville was demonstrated for the public Monday.

The da Vinci Xi system, made by California-based Intuitive Surgical, allows surgeons to conduct minimally invasive procedures on patients. Surgeons manipulate the system’s tools from a console near the operating table, the motions of their hands and fingers mimicked via electrical signals to the system’s robotic arms.

The robotic arms are connected to tubes that house small surgical instruments that can move much like human wrists and hands. The tubes enter a patient’s body through small holes, eliminating the need for large incisions. One of those tubes contains a high-definition camera that sends images to a viewfinder at the surgeon’s console.

Forty years ago, we had six plates of stainless steel surgical instruments. You really couldn’t see this coming.

Brian Johnson, St. Elizabeth’s Hospital Executive Director for Surgical, Interventional and Outpatient Services

According to Tim Lowe, a clinical sales associate with Intuitive, the da Vinci system was born out of experiments conducted by the U.S. military in hopes of developing battlefield surgical systems. Lowe said it became obvious a robot-assisted tool for minimally invasive procedures did not fit well in a military setting.

“To take an open procedure and make it minimally invasive, that’s a huge advantage,” Lowe said. “With this, you’re improving on laparoscopic technique because you’re giving someone a 3-D image, your giving them instrumentation, you’re giving them multi-quadrant access (to the body). So you’re improving even on other forms of minimally-invasive surgery.”

Benefits of minimally invasive surgeries include reduced scarring and a shorter hospital stay with a quicker recovery. Patients who’ve had minimally invasive surgeries also typically require less pain medication.

It’s the latest advancement with robotic surgery. A lot of little things we wished were better (with earlier generations of robot-assisted systems), the latest and greatest has them. It’s a nice advancement of what was already a great tool for us.

D. Scott Crouch, M.D., Lincoln Surgical Associates

The Xi unit in operation at St. Elizabeth’s is the only model in use in Illinois south of Springfield. They’ve had it since January and trained surgical and nursing staff on it before using it on patients beginning three weeks ago. Each of the six procedures done using the Xi have been successful.

“Forty years ago, we had six plates of stainless steel surgical instruments,” said Brian Johnson, a registered nurse and the hospital’s executive director for Surgical, Interventional and Outpatient Services. “You really couldn’t see this coming.”

“It’s the latest advancement with robotic surgery,” said D. Scott Crouch, M.D., a surgeon with Lincoln Surgical Associates in Belleville who has used the Xi. “A lot of little things we wished were better (with earlier generations of robot-assisted systems), the latest and greatest has them. It’s a nice advancement of what was already a great tool for us.”

“Just like we do in open surgery, we have a wrist and a hand,” Crouch added. “The problem with regular laparoscopic surgery is the instruments are not wristed. These instruments inside give us the full 360-degree movement just like the wrist. It’s almost like you’re in there with your hands.”

Tobias Wall: 618-239-2501, @Wall_BND

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