Robotic surgery is becoming more common across medicine

Reporter: Amy Oshier
robotic surgery
Robotic surgery is a more common occurrence now. (CREDIT: WINK News)

The next time you undergo surgery don’t be surprised if a robot is working inside of you.

The way this technology is growing, robotic surgery is touching more and more aspects of medicine.

Dough Mitchell and his wife Darla have been married for 47 years.

The vow of supporting each other in sickness and in health was put to the test when he underwent cancer surgery.

“They removed the part of the colon and it was Jan. 19 of this year. And my surgeon was Dr. Yi,” Mitchell said.

Dr. Fia Yi directs the robotic surgery at Lee Health.

She used a robot to extract cancer from Mitchell’s colon. Not everyone is a candidate for robotic surgery. It depends on the individual. And if you’re wondering, the surgical team can quickly switch to a traditional surgery if the situation changes.

“I have four holes or, or incisions or whatever you would call it, they’re about this size. And assume that’s where they put the robotic instruments,” Mitchell said.

Yi showed WINK news how the robotic systems operate.

“Everything is controlled by a combination of pedals as well as finger movements and wrist movements on the console,” Yi said.

Mitchell’s procedure could not have been performed with early generations of robots.

“It was best suited for single quadrant or single-site operations, where you’re focused on just one organ in one space. But now that we have such flexibility of the robot, where it can actually rotate 360 degrees and their arms can almost rotate just as much,” Yi said.

From science fiction to the real world, robots are rising in hospital settings.

New generations are assisting in specialized operations where no robot had gone before, including joint replacement and neurosurgery.

“The benefits to that is really found in minimally invasive spine surgery. So same concepts where you have the steadiness of the optics, and the ability to see in fine detail, which is very important in spine surgery, as well as being able to put in the screws and the instruments in such a precise manner,” Yi said.

Enhancements in visibility are so great, that you can read the names of states of a $5 bill.

Coupled with the ultra-dexterous arms are opening up new possibilities.

The robot does its job through small openings. As a result of the minimal impact, new studies find people are up and moving quicker.

It’s one of a handful of benefits Yi sees in her patients.

“We’ve found that a hospital stay for patients tend to be less than other modalities. Pain perceived by the patient tends to be less than other modalities as well. Patients also tend to have a overall better outcome in terms of surgical site infections,” Yi said.

As Mitchell finishes his cancer treatment, he looks forward to his 50th anniversary with his wife.

“I was well pleased with it. I mean, it was just certainly much better than having my dominant cut open,” Mitchell said.

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