New surgical robot gives doctors better vision, flexibility

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By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas
By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas
By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas
By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas
By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Have you ever been working on a project around the house or garage and thought if you just had another hand to hold this or turn that it would make a task easier?

Well, it turns out doctors feel the same way, but thanks to a brand-new robot at Abrazo Health's West Valley Hospital, now they do have an extra hand.

It's not quite as handy as an octopus, but it's halfway there.

The previous robot also had four arms, but Dr. P.J. Jain said the four arms on the brand-new da Vinci® Xi robot are designed to get doctors exactly where they need to go.

"The arms here are much more ergonomic," Jain said. "They're not as large. They can be put closer together."

Not only does the entire robot move, but the arms can rotate and spin on a boom. Dr. Miles Howard said that lets doctors see and go wherever they need inside the body.

"Whatever angle you need to get to that particular structure or vessel or whatever, you're able to get to that spot," Howard said.

The arms attach first to what is called a trocar.

"And this is your port or entry into the patient's abdomen or pelvis," Howard said.

Basically, it acts as a tunnel through which doctors will put their camera and instruments, which also attach to the arms.

"The camera in this is a 3-D camera," Dr. Rama Maddaraj said. "It gives us a much better visualization, better control of the instruments and the instruments are much finer."

He will use the robot for a hernia surgery this week that previously would have required an open operation.

Doctors see the whole thing on a monitor at a console where they work. The vision and dexterity are fine enough to tie stitches inside the body.

Jain said it does take some getting used to working with the robot tools.

"It is kind of like learning how to play a video game," he said.

Doctors believe this latest version will be a game changer for patients.

"Patients will have smaller incisions, less pain, less bleeding," Howard said. "It is a more precise surgery."

Howard used the robot for the first time here in the Valley on Monday for a hysterectomy. He said it went perfectly.

The Xi robot at West Valley Hospital is the first in the Valley.