PORTLAND, Ore. A robot has for the first time removed a kidney with only a single incision.
Using the da Vinci surgical robot from Intuitive Surgical Inc. (Sunnyvale, Calif.), the Henry Ford Hospital (Detroit) recently removed a diseased kidney using a new procedure designed by its surgeon, Craig Roger. The procedure, which has now been performed on two patients, proving a concept which could enable engineers to design special one-incision surgical tools for performing other types of surgery. The "Holy Grail" is reducing "open heart" surgery to a single, non-invasive, procedure requiring only a single small incision.
"This is the first time that a robot has been used to remove a kidney through a single incision," said Mani Menon, director of the Vattikuti Urology Institute at the Henry Ford Health System. "We expect robotic instruments to be designed specifically for performing single-incision surgeries."
About 55,000 patients annually have kidneys removed, usually using open surgery that requires a foot-long incision and sometimes requires the near-removal of a rib.
"Others have performed single-incision surgery [manually], but by using the robot we have opened the door to performing much more complex procedures, such as heart surgery," said Menon.
Using a robot enables physicians to execute more complex procedures because robots are very precise. For instance, robot respond to algorithms that filter out "noise," hand tremors, that have a multiplying effect on the surgeon's movements.
Robotic prostate removal has become a routine procedure at hospitals using the da Vinci system. Other surgical procedures could also benefit from robots, according to Alexis Morgan, da Vinci marketing manager at Intuitive Surgical. "There are about 650,000 hysterectomies performed each year in the United States alone, but only a small fraction of those are performed with robots," said Morgan.
"As a result, hospitals are being overworked because of the longer recovery times required, and patients are enduring more discomfort and more scarring than is necessary when using robotic surgery."
Now that more complex procedures are available for single-incision robotic surgery, Morgan claimed that hospital stays and patient discomfort can also be greatly reduced using automated procedures. "Heart surgery today requires cracking the chest open to access the heart, said Morgan. "That results in a lengthy recover period—typically a week's stay at a hospital—and undue discomfort to the patient, but performing heart surgery with a da Vinci robot would require only two or three days for recovery."