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Variety of robotic surgeries expands at West Valley Hospital

by Rebekah L. Sanders - Sept. 4, 2008 09:34 AM
The Arizona Republic

The gray, pod-like console in West Valley Hospital's operating room looks like a video game booth.  But instead of playing games, surgeons are using the pod's joystick-like controls to robotically remove patients' prostates.  The minimally invasive procedure results in less pain, scarring and recovery time than traditional open surgery, surgical director Noelle Pereira said. 

Now the Goodyear hospital is expanding its robotic surgery options to hysterectomies, and kidney and bladder removals.

More than 100 men with prostate cancer have been treated at West Valley Hospital with the da Vinci Surgical System since 2005, according to Pereira.  "We're still a new hospital," she said. But "we're seeing increasing volumes (of cases) in the hospital."

Pereira wants to raise community awareness so more patients will choose the hospital's robotic surgery.  The results include a shorter hospital stay for patients, fewer risks for infection and faster return to normal daily activities, she said.  Rather than a 6- to 8-inch incision from the lower pelvis to bellybutton for most abdominal surgeries, patients receive six half-inch incisions where laparoscopic instruments are inserted, said Dr. Rahul Thaly, a urologic surgeon.

During the procedure, the surgeon guides the tools from the console, watching images of the organs captured by a miniature video camera that can zoom in and out.  "Previously, all you had was your naked eye" during open surgery, Thaly said.  The new technology gives surgeons a better view of the organs and more precise maneuvering, he said.  Patients benefit by leaving the hospital within 48 hours and getting back on their feet in three to four weeks, about half the typical time for an open surgery, said Dr. Pankaj Jain, chief of surgery.  "The less time they're on the operating table and the less time they're in the hospital, the better," he said.

Valley brothers Kevin and Wayne Hokerk chose to have their prostates removed with the robotic technology, instead of radiation or open surgery, after being diagnosed with early-stage cancer recently.  "It was so simple," said Wayne, 65, who was treated at West Valley Hospital last year. "The worst part of the whole thing was when they took the tape off."  Kevin followed his older brother's footsteps in March.   "When I looked at all the options, to me, there was no other choice," the 57-year-old said. "His recovery was so much easier."

Pereira said the procedure will help other patients, such as women undergoing hysterectomies who may have scar tissue from C-sections and patients with cancer of the kidneys or bladder.  Jain said the hospital likely will keep expanding its list of procedures available with the robotic system. 

"It's limitless where we can go with this," he said.

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Last Updated: 11/26/2008


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