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Your Healthy Family: NCH using robots for some surgeries

Posted at 7:53 AM, Sep 06, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-07 07:30:52-04

NAPLES, Fla. — NCH Healthcare System is using robots in surgeries to help patients recover and return to normal life more quickly.

“The robotic approach, it's really sort of the future of surgery," Dr. Robert Grossman said.

Fox 4 was inside the operating room with Dr. Grossman as he did two robotic surgeries at NCH Baker Downtown Hospital: a gall bladder removal and a hernia repair.

After scrubbing in and prepping the patient, Dr. Grossman said they fill the patient's belly with carbon dioxide gas.

"That will give us our working space. Once we get enough gas into the abdomen, we'll place a couple of metal tubes through, and that is how we do our surgery,” he said.

Those metal tubes go in through incisions as small as eight millimeters.

"It's roughly the width of a pinky nail is what I typically will tell patients," Dr. Grossman said.

Those tubes are moved by a robot that Dr. Grossman controls from the corner of the operating room, using tiny devices on his fingers.

“It mimics my hand movements. This is what I would be doing if I had a my hands in the belly. And the nice part is, we're doing all of this through three one-third of an inch incisions," he said.

He also uses foot pedals to control the tools he's using.

"My right foot, I'm controlling the electricity that's used to prevent bleeding. If I move to the left pedal, it could strengthen the grip of one of my instruments," Dr. Grossman said.

His voice is amplified through the operating room so the rest of the medical team can hear him. One of the tools he's using has two cameras on the end.

"It gives you stereo-tactic vision. It gives you 3D vision,” he said. “It makes minimally invasive surgery much easier. It gives you a true set of hands in the belly. It gives you a better set of eyes in the abdomen.”

Over the last 5-10 years, Dr. Grossman said there's been a major boom in the use of the robot for surgery because patients recover better and more quickly.

“We have people who are having massive colo-rectal surgeries, gastrectomies, bariatric surgeries, and then even the the bread and butter stuff like hernias, gall bladders, who are having bowel function return within 24 hours or less. And getting home within one to two days," he said. "They're having fewer complications, they have less pain, less discomfort, an early return to normal activity, normal life. An earlier return to work.”

Dr. Grossman said with robotic surgery, there's very little they can't do.

"Some things we choose not to: emergency surgeries, unstable patients. You obviously want to use it when it's appropriate," he said.

Dr. Grossman said robotic surgery also saves both the patient and hospital money.