October 6, 2008

Thank You Very Much, Dr. Roboto


Baltimore Washington Medical Center is investing $1.7 million in the latest version of a robotic surgeon designed to bring new clarity and dexterity to delicate operations.

By the end of October, BWMC will begin using the da Vinci Machine complete with high definition, three-dimensional imaging for non- invasive laproscopic surgery.

"The advantage is you can move the instruments like you are using your hands. You can bend it like you bend your wrist. It allows for more precision, in my opinion," said Urologic Oncologist Dr. Adam Metwalli.

"It allows you to see some things in greater detail that are normally hidden under the pubic bone and minimally invasive surgery, as a rule, has a shorter recuperation time with about two weeks sooner return to work."

Both Anne Arundel Medical Center in Annapolis and Harbor Hospital in Baltimore have been using earlier models of the da Vinci for the past few years.

"Patients are becoming more informed and more sophisticated in knowing what kind of procedures they need," said Kathy McCollum, BWMC vice president. "It's also important for the surgeons who want to be on the cutting edge of their profession."

A surgeon operates the da Vinci while seated at a console viewing a 3-D image of the surgical field. The surgeon's fingers grasp master controls below the display, with hands and wrists naturally positioned relative to his or her eyes.

The system translates the surgeon's hand, wrist and finger movements into real-time movements of surgical instruments inside the patient.

The machine is usually used within the field of urology, for procedures related to tumor removal and gal-bladder issues.

"It cuts the blood loss by two-thirds (over open surgery). There is also some data that suggests there are better outcomes with return of continence and erectile function," Dr. Metwalli said.

The University of Maryland is exploring the technology's use with respect to gynecology and heart bypass surgery. BWMC is part of the University of Maryland Medical System.

"It's very significant in terms of this hospital using this technology to give its patients the best possible care," said Ms. McCollum. {Corrections:} {Status:}


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