Three years after acquiring its first robotic surgical system, the Bristol Hospital Robotic Surgery program continues to gain traction with more and more robotic procedures being conducted every year.
In April 2015, the hospital acquired the state-of-the-art da Vinci Xi Surgical System with its first robotic surgical case taking place soon after. At the time, Bristol Hospital was one of only a handful of hospitals in Connecticut to have the latest version of the da Vinci robot. The da Vinci system was funded in part by the three signature fundraising events of the Bristol Hospital Development Foundation including its annual Festival of Wine and Spirits event, the Golf Classic and the annual hospital ball.
To date, the hospital has performed more than 785 robotic cases. In Fiscal Year 2016, 299 robotic procedures—the first full year for the program—were performed. In Fiscal Year 2017, 322 cases were performed. And the number of robotic cases is increasing.
“Our program has exceeded our expectations,” said bariatric and general surgeon Vanessa Malit, MD, who is medical director of the Robotic Surgery Program. “We continue to build a roster of surgeons who are pursuing or already have these robotic surgical skills.”
Dr. Malit added that with the da Vinci Xi, surgeons operate through just a few small incisions. There are numerous advantages for patients who undergo robotic surgery including less-post operative pain, lower risk of infection, minimal scarring, decreased blood loss, faster recovery times, and earlier discharge from the hospital.
“Overall, surgery with the da Vinci system allows patients to return to their normal activities faster than with traditional open surgery,” Dr. Malit said.
Bristol Hospital Director of Perioperative Services Patricia Coppola, MSN, RN, CNOR, said the majority of da Vinci procedures are bariatric surgeries, followed by general surgery procedures—primarily hernia and colon resection surgeries—and third are obstetric/gynecological procedures. However another subspecialty is resulting in a growing number of robotic procedures for the program.
“Last summer the Bristol Hospital Multi-Specialty Group hired Dr. Kai Hammerich as its new medical director of Urologic Robotic procedures,” Coppola said. “Dr. Hammerich uses the da Vinci to treat patients with kidney, bladder and prostate cancer; in a way that is different than conventional open surgery.”
Dr. Malit added that there other advantages to having the latest technology like the da Vinci Xi.
“Surgeons today are receiving robotic training in their fellowships and when they are being recruited by hospitals, they are looking to utilize these skills in an organization that has made an investment like this,” Dr. Malit said. “Having this new technology is invaluable when it comes to attracting talent surgeons like Dr. Hammerich, who has already had made such a great impact on our program in a short time here.”
The da Vinci Surgical System includes four components: a magnified vision system that gives the surgeons a 3D high-definition view inside the body; an ergonomically designed console where the surgeon sits down while operating; a side cart where the patient is positioned during surgery and wristed instruments.
“The tiny wristed instruments bend and rotate far greater than the traditional laparoscopic instruments,” Dr. Malit said. “As a result, the da Vinci Xi enables the surgeon to operate with enhanced vision, dexterity and control. At the console, we are using our fingers and wrists in a way that we could reach angulations that otherwise we would not be able to reach.”
Since Bristol Hospital acquired the da Vinci in 2015, Dr. Malit said she has noticed that patients are more aware of the advantages of robotic surgery and the perception that the system is some sort of humanoid device are not as apparent any more.
“Our patients are more tuned into what technology is available to them than ever before,” she said. “More and more people realize that the system is completely under the surgeon’s control. With the final product being less pain and quicker recovery times, they definitely see the advantages.”