Ray RaimundiNov 3, 2017, 8:57 pm

New medical technology transforms standard of going ‘under the knife’

FiOS1 News Ray Raimundi and Journal News report on local hospitals performing robot surgeons


SLEEPY HOLLOW — A robot is single-handedly revolutionizing health care and the way surgical procedures are conducted at hospitals across Westchester and the Lower Hudson Valley.

"So what the robot allows is much more complex operations to be done minimally invasive," says Phelps Hospital thoracic surgeon Dr. Darren I. Rohan.

The robot, identified as the state-of-the-art "da Vinci X-I," the robotic surgical system, costs an estimated $2 million. It features robotic arms, high definition 3-D screens, and its newly designed range of motion. It's a machine with the most advanced method of minimally invasive robotic surgery.

“The robotic surgery boom is something that has been developing for about a decade now,” says Journal News health investigative reporter David Robinson. He has been looking into Lower Hudson Valley hospitals, including Phelps Hospital in Sleepy Hollow, using this latest technological phenomenon.

So here's how it works: The surgeon sits at a console and then uses hand controls to maneuver robotic arms while viewing images of the inside of the patient's body.

The robotic arms contain endoscopes with a light and camera attached to them to provide the surgeon with a vision, clarity and precision like no other.

The arms can bend in multiple directions and have the ability to grasp, cut, and burn or sear skin.

"It makes it safer. The patients have smaller incisions, their pain is less, and they get out of the hospital sooner," Dr. Rohan says.

Robot surgeries are used for minimally invasive gynecological, urological, cardiac, thoracic and general surgical procedures.

Dr. Rohan is one of the first to use the "da Vinci X-I" model for chest surgery in the country.

"We know patients recover quicker, there's less blood loss, less pain and they get back to their normal activity," Dr. Rohan says.

Phelps Hospital acquired their “da Vinci X-I "robot back in the spring. Over the las six months later, they have operated on 50 patients and it seems like the robotic procedure is growing in popularity.

In fact, according to the independent hospital research organization, the ECRI Institute, in 2014, there were upwards of 570,000 surgical procedures using the "da Vinci” robots.

Northern Westchester Hospital is also performing the robotic surgeries with the "da Vinci" robot. And those who chose to have the robotic operations have nothing but praise.

"By the next day, I was up and moving around, walking around, no problem. And I have to say, since the surgery, I haven't had a single moment of pain," said robotic surgery patient Cyndi Sciaccia

But while there may be less pain to the body, there may be more pain to the patient’s pocketbook.

The robotic surgery typically cost $600 to $1,500 more than traditional procedures.

And there risks.

According to Food and Drug Administration and the robot manufacturer, between 2000 and 2013, there were 8,000 device malfunctions with robotic surgeries. Other statistics include 1,400 patient injuries and 144 deaths. During those years, for every 100,000 robotic surgeries, 83 deaths or injuries occurred.

"There were some pretty striking numbers as far as some of the research into some of the complications that were out there," Robinson says

But new innovations with the model X-I have been made, with an even stronger emphasis on safety and the FDA's required maintenance of the robot.

But the ultimate question is will it become mainstream?

Medical professionals predict robotic surgery may possibly be the standard within the next 10 years.

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