Upstate News

May 20, 2004
Darryl Geddes 315 464-4828

University Hospital is first in region to use da Vinci surgical system

A computer enhanced surgical system that integrates the best features of minimally invasive and traditional surgery is now operating at University Hospital. The acquisition of the da Vinci Surgical System makes University Hospital the only hospital in Central New York—and one of only four in upstate New York— to offer patients the benefits of one of the most advanced minimally invasive surgery technologies available.

The $1.3 million da Vinci system offers clear advantages to patients, physicians say. “The da Vinci system reduces the size of the surgical incision, the length of stay and risk of infection,” said Charles Lutz, M.D., the first University Hospital surgeon to operate with the new system. “For the patient, it means a faster, more comfortable return to normal activity.”

The da Vinci system is commonly referred to as a robot, but the device is actually controlled by the surgeon. The da Vinci system offers direct 3-D visualization, full range of motion and an intuitive sense of control for surgeons.

Lutz, who is fellowship trained in cardiac surgery and has completed special training with the da Vinci system, is most impressed by the robot’s dexterity and precision. “This device does things the surgeon’s hands cannot physically do. It makes the right and left hand ambidextrous. It eliminates tremor. It scales back delicate hand movements to an even more precise level. It allows us to perform more complex procedures through pencil-sized incisions,” he said

Seated at the console of the da Vinci Surgical System, surgeons view a 3-D image of the patient’s body and use a joystick-like instrument to manipulate small instruments inserted through small chest incisions. The robotic arms mimic the natural movements of the hand and fingers. The robot’s built-in computer enhances the surgeon’s hand movements, making them more precise which is especially important in delicate bypass and valve surgery.

Initially available for mitral valve repair, mammary artery harvesting and coronary artery bypass, the da Vinci system will eventually be used for gastric bypass surgery, prostatectomy and various pediatric procedures performed by University Hospital surgeons. Currently University Hospital uses the da Vinci system to harvest the left internal mammary artery for coronary bypass operations.

The da Vinci Surgical System was the first of its kind to be judged safe and effective by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

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