John Nora, MD, leads Doctors Hospital of Sarasota surgical team to perform area’s first single-site cholesystectomy
SARASOTA—On March 27, John Nora, MD, led a surgical team at Doctors Hospital of Sarasota to perform the area’s first single-site, robot-assisted cholesystectomy through a tiny incision in the belly button, making the procedure virtually scarless.
The gallbladder removal surgery signaled the 155-bed, acute care facility’s step up in minimally invasive surgery using the newly refined daVinci Si® surgical system.
“To be on the forefront of this technically advanced surgery is an example of our commitment to our patients and our leadership in providing our community the latest, minimally invasive surgical options,” said Doctors Hospital CEO Robert Meade.
Nora, a general and vascular surgeon, said the benefits of single-site robotic surgery are being realized in various specialties.
“The surgery results in minimal pain, a faster recovery and return to work for the patient,” he pointed out, “as well as a virtually invisible scar masked by the belly button.”
The FDA approved the daVinci Si® single-incision gallbladder removal last December. Even though the traditional daVinci Si® gallbladder removal required only four small incisions, this latest advancement in technology allows the entire procedure to be completed through one incision at the belly button. Gallstones, which can lead to the need for gallbladder removal, occur twice as often in women, who often express concern about scarring.
The daVinci Si® surgical robot arrived onsite on Aug. 17, 2011, making Doctors Hospital the first and only local facility to use the newest generation daVinci technology. In addition to gallbladder removal, surgeons use the robot in urology, gynecology, general surgery, and oncology procedures. The hospital also offers a diverse range of non-robotic, minimally invasive surgeries.
“We had the first robotic procedure a couple of days after the daVinci Si’s arrival,” said Nancy Jones, Doctors Hospital’s director of perioperative services. “We’d been training with the staff prior to that day, including a lengthy Saturday session with the company the week before.”
The Si surgical system features superior visual clarity of tissue and anatomy, surgical dexterity and precision superior to the human hand, and new ergonomic memory settings for greater surgeon comfort. One described the system’s enhanced 3D, high-definition vision of operative field with up to 10 times magnification, as the ability to “view details that you cannot see with the naked eye. It’s almost like having your head inside the patient’s abdomen.”
With four robotic arms, including one for the camera, the Si surgical system provides surgeons with greater maneuverability. The Si surgical system eliminates unnecessary motion to make the work very precise. The system’s updated and simplified user interface enhances operating room efficiency.
“Many surgeons had been trained on the older daVinci model, so they just needed a little updating and we were able to start on it right away,” said Jones.
Doctors Hospital also has a virtual-reality training simulator to help surgeons become even more proficient with the high-tech platform for minimally-invasive surgery.
The daVinci skills simulator looks and feels like the real thing, but instead of using physical instruments, surgeons use virtual needles and objects via a special piece of equipment attached to the actual robot. Surgeons may go into the operating room and switch the robot to simulator mode and work “virtually.” The simulator provides a controlled re-creation of critical steps in instrument direction, allowing surgeons to warm up before a case or use offline to provide supplementary exercise time on new robotic techniques. It may also measure their progress on various exercises and track individual progress.
“It helps surgeons who haven’t done a case in a while use the simulator to sharpen their skills, or if they’re new to Si technology, to have time to practice before moving forward with training,” said Jones. “It brings a whole new reality to working with the Si technology.”
Frist Humanitarian Awards
Doctors Hospital of Sarasota recently named three local Frist Humanitarian Award winners: Thomas Sweeney II, MD, PhD, Susan Kramer and Joan White. The award signals the highest honor a physician, employee and volunteer can receive at the Sarasota healthcare facility.
The Frist Humanitarian Award was created in 1971 to honor outstanding individuals for their humanitarian and volunteer activities. Named in honor of HCA co-founder Thomas F. Frist Sr., MD, the award recognizes individuals whose daily dedication and caregiving practices epitomize the highest standards of quality and personal commitment. Sweeney, a fellowship trained spine surgeon, travels to St. Martin to provide healthcare to the underprivileged and is also helping to build a hospital there for those in need.
Kramer, a 15-year Doctors Hospital employee, serves as the surgery scheduling coordinator, and also collects medical and surgical supplies for Agape Mission Enterprises, traveling to the Dominican Republic to volunteer with medical teams.
White, a 17-year volunteer at Doctors Hospital, serves the hospital as chairperson for outpatient, fundraising for the auxiliary and past president of the auxiliary. She is involved in the Step Recovery program, serves the homeless with Knights of Columbus, and is involved in her church’s music ministry.
“It’s an honor to serve with these outstanding humanitarians and all of the employees, volunteers and physicians who were nominated,” said Doctors Hospital CEO Robert Meade. “Their extraordinary efforts on behalf of our patients, co-workers, and this community are very much appreciated. They’re deserving of this honor.”