Surgical robotic system unveiled

Doctors at UPMC Altoona soon will have an extra “hand” when performing minimally invasive operations thanks to a new robotic surgical system.

Hospital officials Wednesday unveiled the da Vinci Si Surgical System to the surgical services department and the community, displaying the equipment in the hospital lobby.

“We are very excited about the new technology. With this technology we can see into the abdominal cavity and pelvis with 3-D vision. We can see the tissues more accurately. We can use three or four instruments, said Dr. Matthew Newlin, medical director of the robotics program.

“The biggest advantage is the tip of the tools can move. It is like having a miniature hand within the abdominal cavity.”

Although it is often called a robot, the system cannot act on its own.

“It is important to realize that the robot is not performing the surgery. The surgeon is controlling the robot at all times,” Newlin said.

The first surgeries using the new system will be performed next week – gall bladder removal surgeries called robotic assisted laporoscopic cholecystectomy, Newlin said.

The da Vinci System consists of a surgeon’s console, a patient side cart with four interactive robotic arms, a 3-D high definition vision system and miniaturized wristed instruments.

The system can be used for a multitude of procedures, including hysterectomy, myomectomy, colorectal, gallbladder and other general surgery procedures.

“This is a significant arrival,” said Jerry Murray, hospital president, “because of the value robotic surgery offers our surgical staff and those in the region we serve.”

Gary Zuckerman, vice president of supply chain for UPMC Altoona, said the da Vinci System will benefit those who need prostate surgery.

“We have about 150 patients a year who need that surgery and end up in Pittsburgh. Now we can keep them here and take care of them here,” Zuckerman said.

“With this, there is a single incision so you can have quicker healing and recovery,” Zuckerman said.

“Together, these technological advancements provide our surgeons with unparalleled precision, dexterity and control that enable a minimally invasive approach for many complex surgical procedures,” Murray said. “We believe that the new da Vinci Si will help us provide the best possible outcomes and confirms our commitment to provide our community access to the latest advancements in minimally invasive surgery.”

Mirror Staff Writer Walt Frank is at 946-7467.