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West Valley Hospital unveils latest in robotic-assisted surgeries

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GOODYEAR – When Mary Brown decided the pain from a uterine cyst was too much and she began looking at hysterectomy options, she remembered the large incision and pain when her mother underwent the same procedure.

When her doctor mentioned the chance to undergo a hysterectomy via a robotic-assisted method at West Valley Hospital, her choice was clear.

“I think he said three little pencil-sized incisions and the robot goes in there and snip, snip, snip, and you’re all done and you heal faster, so I said, ‘Let’s do it,’” Brown said.

The hospital said that Brown, who underwent surgery Sept. 15, is the first person in the Phoenix metropolitan area to undergo surgery with the latest da Vinci Xi robotic surgical system.

The robotic-assisted surgery allows surgeons to operate in minimally invasive manners, causes the patient less pain and allows for greater precision, said Dr. Miles Howard, an OB-GYN with West Valley Hospital.

“I too was once a nonbeliever in the robot,” Howard said. “I said there’s nothing I can do laparoscopically that the robot can replace, but I’ve since changed my views on that for what the robot has done for my patients; it’s almost night and day.”

The da Vinci Xi model has four arms that are used during the surgery. Depending on the complexity of the case, the surgeon may only use three arms. In that situation, one holds a telescope while the other two arms are able to go into the patient’s body. All of the arms can perform the same function, which is different than the previous da Vinci model.

The doctor sits at a station that has a high-definition, 3-D view of the camera in the patient’s body. His hand movements on the station’s arms move the arms on the da Vinci Xi.

Howard said the cuts are 3 millimeters to 4 millimeters. Trocars, devices put inside the abdomen, are attached to the arms. Surgeons put in trocars in traditional laparoscopy as well, but the da Vinci Xi has remote center technology that allows less movement in the abdominal wall.

“In the old method of the laparoscopy, the movements basically traumatize the abdominal wall. So the pain people have with traditional laparoscopic surgery was pretty intense,” Howard said.

With a faster recovery time, it is likely patients could leave later that day or the next day. Howard said they are having patients stay one night for observation.

From past positions, Stan Holm, CEO of West Valley Hospital saw that robotics made an impact in recovery times for patients. Holm said he wanted to bring robotic-assisted surgical systems to provide another option for West Valley Hospital patients.

“The Xi really has brought us from a lagging perspective to a leading perspective for robotic options for our patients,” Holm said.

Brown said she was feeling well 10 hours after the scheduled surgery time. She doesn’t have any plans for the rest of the week besides checking her online graduate courses at Arizona State University.

“I’m just anxious to get home and get caught up for the couple of days I’m missing,” Brown said. “But I’m just going to take it easy.”