Carson City Hospital now home to new DaVinci surgical system

By Cory Smith • Last Updated 10:40 am on Monday, November 07, 2011

Dr. Michelle Becher walks former hospital employee Jennifer Churchill through a demonstration of the da Vinci surgical system at Carson City Hospital.

CARSON CITY — Carson City Hospital is now home to one of the most advanced surgical systems available.
The DaVinci Surgical System, a robotic surgical device, is designed to facilitate complex surgery using a minimally invasive approach.
The hospital received the system about a month ago. More than 10 surgeries have been performed using it.
“We brought this equipment to Carson City Hospital for one reason: It’s better for outpatient experience,” Chief Operating Officer Matt Thompson said. “It’s better for their pain, results in less blood loss, fewer complications, shorter stays, less risk of infection and better recovery time.”
The system consists of a surgeon’s console that is in the same room as the patient and a patient side-cart with four interactive arms controlled by the surgeon at the console.
“Here we are in Carson City with the best technology you can find when it comes to surgery,” Thompson said. “It’s incredible.”
Dr. Michelle Becher said is excited that the technology is now available at the hospital. She is amazed at the precision and more up-close view it offers of the surgical site.
“I feel like I’ve won the lottery,” Becher said. “During surgery, it’s like putting miniature eyes and miniature hands inside the belly cavity and then expanding that view by 10 times magnification. We’re seeing things now so close in an open belly where before I couldn’t get my eyes close enough to look at the anatomy that close.”
Nurse Jill Bartolo said the difference in outpatient care is nothing short of amazing.
“There’s no comparison with the outcome you’re having with these patients,” Bartolo said. “You’re talking a four- to six-inch incision versus five little punctures. There’s no blood loss. It’s a nice and smooth procedure and you can’t even tell that someone’s had surgery.”
Bartolo said the recovery time for open surgeries is usually a couple of days to a week, but with the DaVinci system patients are often ready to leave the hospital the day following surgery.
“Patients wake up in the recovery room and they’re not in pain, they’re comfortable,” she said. “They’re ready to go home and we have to tell them they have to stay. It’s been incredible.”
Bartolo said traditional surgeries require more medication, which can make them sicker and more tired.
“With the DaVinci machine they wake up and they can’t believe they’re already done,” she said. “A lot of them don’t require any pain medication, they’re just a little sore.”
The nearest DaVinci machines are in Lansing and Grand Rapids.
“We’re a lot closer now for people who want this type of surgery,” hospital President and CEO Bruce Traverse said
Thompson said there is no difference in cost between open surgery and surgery performed with the DaVinci system.
“From a patient experience factor, bringing this machine to the hospital was a no-brainer,” he said. “The hospital was asking, how do we retain and grow the amount of surgery that we have? There are certain procedures, as this technology continues to develop, where patients will demand to use the DaVinci system because you can walk out the door the next day.”
Bartolo said the only reason she believes someone might not want to choose the DaVinci system is a fear of a robot being used in the procedure, but stressed that a surgeon is in complete control.
“People think when you say ‘robot’ that nobody is in the room, but that’s not the case,” she said. “It’s not just a robot doing the work. It takes a good surgeon who has good finesse and great skills in order to maneuver the machine.”
Traverse said the system currently is limited to gynecology surgery, but he anticipates more doctors with training in other types of surgery will come to Carson City Hospital for the DaVinci system.
The first addition could be a urologist next summer.

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