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New state-of-the-art, robotically assisted surgery to help patients recover more quickly

Boston University : 02 June, 2005  (Technical Article)
Robotically assisted surgery allows the surgeon to perform a complicated surgery using minimally invasive techniques that are less traumatic for the patient; it also lowers the complication rate, according to Richard Babayan, MD, chief of Urology at BMC and professor of urology at Boston University School of Medicine.
The surgeon is able to see the patient three dimensionally through a two-camera system, according to Babayan. The robot is controlled by sensors, which are attached to the surgeonís fingers. The surgeon then manipulates the hand movements of the robot to perform the desired function, eliminating tremor and enabling ambidexterity. The robotís range of motion is more extensive than the human hand and wrist.

Patients in need of complex surgery used to have to travel to a hospital in Connecticut for this leading-edge robotic technology; patient cases have since increased at BMC.

The da Vinci tm robot is used by surgeons in the Urology and Cardiothoracic Surgery Departments, making BMC among the elite hospitals in Boston to mount a widespread use of robotic technology by two departments.

BMCís Cardiothoracic Surgery Department has already performed seven operations utilizing robotic-assisted surgery for procedures such as coronary bypass, repairing mitral valves and repairing holes in the upper chambers of the heart. The Urology Department has performed 11 operations, using the technology for prostate removal of localized prostate cancer and reconstruction of the kidney for obstruction.

ďWhat would have been a six-week recovery time for one of our patients has been reduced to two to three weeks because we can now perform certain operations without opening up the whole chest cavity. With the da Vinci robot we are now able to make the next quantum leap forward in this surgical area,' said Richard Shemin, M.D., chairman of Cardiothoracic Surgery at BMC and professor of cardiothoracic surgery at BUSM. The robot was originally developed by NASA and the U.S. Military for operations performed at long distances. Through the robotís assistance, a surgeon is able to operate by making a small, rather than a large, incision. Small incisions and reduced spreading of the incision leads to less blood loss and reduced pain for the patient, according to Shemin, who has performed over 7,000 open-heart operations.
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