HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The trusted hands of a surgeon may not always be wielding a scalpel or clamps. At least, not directly.
Instead, the surgeon may be sitting at a console, with those hands controlling a surgical robot.
That’s been the case at the Queen’s Medical Center since 2007.
The hospital marked its 10,000th operation using surgical robots, and also blessed the latest model, the DaVinci SP system, which arrived at Queen’s in March.
“This robot has one hole that allows us to enter with instruments. They spread apart inside the body, and allows us to manipulate and cut tissues and take out things like prostate cancer," said Dr. Steven Nishida, a general surgeon who is also the chairman of the Queen’s robotics committee.
Nishida has performed more than 900 procedures using surgical robots.
“The big advantage from my point of view is that the robot allows us to work with more precision, so I can take out more lymph nodes and do a much more precise job of operating than I could with my hands,” said Nishida.
Dr. Jon “Kai” Yamaguchi, another surgeon who performs general and transplant surgeries, said the robots are easy to use.
“Not that it would make somebody who’s not a surgeon necessarily safe to do it, (but) 20 minutes I can teach you how to do a hernia ― at least the steps to go down,” he said.
Such a machine can cost upwards of $2 million.
Queen’s is just one of 19 hospitals worldwide, and the only one in Hawaii, with the latest model, which can insert four instruments through a single, dime-sized incision.
The surgical robots can’t be used for every medical procedure, but they can get to hard-to-reach places in the body.
“For instance our ear, nose and throat surgeons are now able to use this machine to remove cancers at the back of the tongue. And it allows our colorectal surgeons to go through the anus and remove tumors from within the colon without making any incisions,” said Nishida.
The result is faster healing and less pain for the patient.
While it is the latest technology, it’s still a tool for the doctor.
“The robot doesn’t move on its own,” said Nishida. "Every movement made by the robot is mimicking movements made by the surgeon.