Robotic-Assisted Surgeries Are Here

You may find yourself being operated on by a robot next time you receive general surgery at Baptist St. Anthony Hospital in Amarillo.  Their 1.6 million dollar robot assist doctors in surgery for the first time this week and it's the only one like it in the whole panhandle region.

Da Vinci Surgical System allows doctors to perform major surgeries through the smallest of incisions. 

"People have wondered, 'am I going to be operated on by a robot?', it really is liposcopic surgery, it's all controlled by the surgeon, it's just controlled from a  console versus being controlled at the side of the bed, so the surgeon is controlling  100% of the operation, the robot is just a tool." said OB/Gyn Gregory May who performs hysterectomies using the robot.

A tool doctors say gives them a better range of motion and magnified vision while performing surgeries.  They say it also benefits patients because it is less invasive than open surgery.

"It allows the patient to have much less pain afterwards, leave the hospital much sooner after, and earlier return to function," said Dr. David Wilhem

Dr. Wilhem is a Urologist and he used the robot on Tuesday to remove Hoytt Busby's prostate. Now, Busby is able to walk out of B.S.A. on Wednesday with minimum pain.

"I don't have much pain at all, I've had some pain yes, and I'm sore in my abdomen, you would naturally be sore after somebody was poking and prodding and bending and having those little arms in your body for 3 hours or so." said Busby.

Doctor's also tell us that because the incisions are so small, patients are less likely to get a wound infection.  But patients just want to know if the robots are safe?

District Sales Manager Sean Wolfe says "the system has sensors throughout it that detect if a sensors not working  that shuts the system down, it has features within the surgeons console, the surgeon  takes their head out of the robot it senses that the head is out. It won't allow the robot to operate."

Wolfe also adds surgeons and staff have to go through extensive training and be certified  before they go into surgery, and the robot doesn't do anything the surgeon doesn't tell it to do.