As one of the first medical centers in the Northwest to perform robotic-assisted surgery, Swedish is home to the fastest growing, most comprehensive and experienced robotic-assisted surgical program in the region. Swedish established the multidisciplinary, robotic-assisted surgical program in 2005 and has since performed more than 3,400 robotic-assisted surgeries -- more than any other program in the region.
Swedish-affiliated surgeons are using the robotic-assisted surgical system to perform minimally invasive urological, gynecological and thoracic surgeries for diseases such as prostate cancer, kidney cancer, uterine, cervical and ovarian cancer, lung cancer and endometriosis in complex gynecological reconstruction surgeries. Recently, Swedish expanded its robotic-assisted surgery offerings and began using it for bariatric, ear-nose-and-throat, colorectal, and general surgery cases, including colon and pancreatic cancer.
In the past year, Swedish upgraded its robotic-assisted equipment and purchased three next generation robotic-assisted surgical systems to help surgeons perform an array of minimally invasive procedures. This fall, Swedish is adding a fourth robotic-assisted surgical system to advance its pioneering use of this minimally invasive surgical technology for patients at its new hospital under construction in Issaquah.
"In the hands of a skilled surgeon, the da Vinci Si HD system has several advantages over traditional surgery and we're committed to bringing it to the community when possible," said James Porter, M.D., medical director of the robotic-assisted surgery program at Swedish and a prostate cancer survivor who himself underwent robotic-assisted surgery. "While the robot's movements are under the control of the surgeon, the computer can be adjusted so that the movements of the surgeon's hands on the controllers are scaled down and translated to far smaller movements. This provides a level of precision that the unaided human hand could never achieve."
The robot's surgical instruments have a high-definition camera that provides surgeons an up-close, three-dimensional view of the surgery with 10-fold magnification that permits visualization of organs and tissues in the body with more clarity than either a standard laparoscope or an open procedure.
Using state-of-the-art technology, the robotic-assisted surgical system provides a precise method to help a trained surgeon use finely controlled robotic instruments to perform minimally invasive procedures safely, while speeding patient recovery. Minimally invasive surgery is performed through dime-sized (one to two cm) incisions in contrast to the much larger incisions used in traditional, open surgery, which are often as large as six to 12 inches long. Patient benefits can include faster recovery times, shortened hospital stays, less pain and scarring, and the potential for better clinical outcomes.
In addition to the growing number of surgical specialties being performed with the robotic-assisted surgical systems at Swedish, many of the surgeons are on the forefront of education and research in their respective specialties. The Swedish robotics program recently became the first in the Northwest to add a new virtual-reality training simulator to help surgeons practice on the robot. The device contains a variety of exercises designed to give surgeons the opportunity to improve their proficiency with the system. Simulation in all forms is becoming an important part of the learning experience for surgical technology. By providing a controlled re-creation of critical steps in instrument control, simulation allows surgeons to hone their skills in a non-clinical environment that once required expensive models or cadavers for learning.
"Experience matters when it comes to robotic-assisted surgery and we're proud to say that our physicians are the most experienced in the Pacific Northwest," said Richard Bergmann, administrative director of the robotics program at Swedish. "We're now setting the standard industry-wide by giving physicians a new opportunity to use our new simulator to practice and gain experience in more ways."
In addition, Swedish is the first medical provider on the West Coast to use a fluorescent imaging device to highlight tissue during a procedure. The advancement provides each surgeon with an even more precise target during surgery and offers a greatly enhanced visual field. Swedish is among a small, select group of medical providers in the United States to have this technology.
The imaging device has a specially designed camera and endoscopes that allow surgeons to capture tissue images along with surrounding blood vessels by injecting a unique fluorescent dye that is activated by infrared light. This technique gives Swedish-affiliated robotic-assisted surgeons new tools that ultimately can lead to better patient outcomes.
Medical Staff's Videos Help People Understand How the Robot-Assist Surgical Device is Controlled
To demonstrate how the da Vinci robotic-assisted surgical system provides surgeons with greater surgical precision and dexterity over existing approaches, the Swedish robotic surgery team produced a series of YouTube videos to help the average person better understand how it works:
- Seattle Doctor Laces Football Using da Vinci Robot
- Seattle Doctor Folds and Throws Paper Airplane Using da Vinci Robot
- Seattle Doctor Gives Manicure Using da Vinci Robot