Tomorrow’s healthcare: Presenting Robot-Assisted Surgery

NIHD press release

Residents of Southern Inyo County and Tonopah, Nevada are invited to explore the high tech world of Robot-Assisted Surgery during two Open House presentations in the coming week. Those in attendance literally will be invited to sit in the surgeon’s seat, slide their fingers into the video-game style controllers, and see what tomorrow’s healthcare looks like today.

Dr. Jeanine Arndal

To be clear, the robot that’s headed out for this tour is not the one based in Northern Inyo Hospital’s operating theater. Rather, it is a traveling version of Intuitive Surgical System’s newest model, the Xi, and while it is built to travel, taking it on the road is no easy feat.

Now considered the standard of care, robotic surgical systems have been successfully used in more than five million procedures around the world. In an almost two-year run at NIH, the da Vinci robot has aided in more than 155 local surgeries. These open houses provide our communities with a rare opportunity to see such advancements in surgical technology. Plus, given the chance to actual operate the system, those attending will be able to see for themselves why this new approach to minimally-invasive surgery is being taught in medical schools across the nation.

This short technology road tour will start Tuesday, Aug. 21 at the Tonopah Convention Center, and conclude Wednesday, Aug. 22 at Statham Hall in Lone Pine. Each day, from 4-5:30 p.m., students of all ages are invited to question-and-answer session followed by an opportunity to sit at the surgeon’s console and put the da Vinci through its paces. A more formal presentation for adults will follow from 6-7:30 p.m.

Dr. Allison Robinson

Two of the three da Vinci-trained surgeons from Northern Inyo Healthcare District will assist with the presentations. Dr. Allison Robinson, a colorectal surgeon, will join Intuitive’s team in Tonopah, giving the evening demonstration and fielding questions about her experiences with robot-assisted surgery. Dr. Jeanine Arndal, a gynecologic surgeon, will serve as the presenter at the Lone Pine open house and also take audience questions about this new surgical tool.

These open houses stem from the popularity of two similar events held in Bishop over the last two years. “Intuitive asked us to help show our neighbors what robot-assisted surgery means for the future of healthcare,” said NIHD’s Chief Executive Officer Kevin S. Flanigan, MD MBA. “We are delighted to partner with them and, in Lone Pine’s case, Southern Inyo Healthcare District, to bring this style of education to the Owens Valley and the Tonopah-Goldfield areas.”

Dr. Flanigan explained that even now robot-assisted surgery is an option given to those facing hernia repairs, hysterectomies, prostrate and colorectal surgeries.

It’s so important for people to understand what their options are in healthcare, especially in surgery,” he said. “If these open houses help educate people so they can make informed decisions about their health when faced with surgery, then we are achieving our mission, to improve our communities, one life at a time. What we do is not always about getting patients to our healthcare facility. There is an educational component to healthcare and if we can help facilitate that, and do it alongside trusted partners like Intuitive and Southern Inyo Healthcare District, then we are providing a true service to our neighbors.”

Dr. Flanigan concluded by saying, “Besides, why would anyone want to travel for hours to the big city to spend the night before surgery when you can have personal small town care with tomorrow’s technology.”

Anyone with questions about the open houses, may call Barbara Laughon, NIHD’s Strategic Communications Specialist, at (760) 873-5811 ext. 3415.

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2 Responses to Tomorrow’s healthcare: Presenting Robot-Assisted Surgery

  1. Gene August 22, 2018 at 7:19 am #

    The De Vinci machine is a great medical innovation; however, try to visualize it as a very sensitive, three-dimensional video game. Just one inadvertent twitch of a finger is magnified and can move a cutting blade where it wasn’t meant to go. This technology becomes a valuable tool, AFTER the operator has had extensive training plus has performed many procedures. It isn’t something amenable to use by every surgeon, and just having the equipment available isn’t enough. It is necessary for the intended operator to have had quality training on this equipment and to have performed MANY of these procedures. Also, some robotic procedures are easier done on this machine than are others; they are not all requisite of the same degree of finesse and eye-brain-finger coordination. I wouldn’t want to be among a doctor-operator’s first thirty or so uses of this procedure in a complicated procedure–this equipment isn’t for OJT learning. But in the hands of a trained, “high-hours” De Vinci surgeon, it is a remarkable advancement in medical science.

  2. philip anaya August 20, 2018 at 7:03 pm #

    While relying on J, Kluismire and Dee Younger for the best of local humor I have to say DIY which could be stated more accurately (and many others in our locale would agree) as DMS, “do it myself”, is very appealing,. I would however in the experience of the next ,the fourth hernia which will undoubtably occur in this life time will opt for the knife, Dr. Cromer-Tyler and the wonderful care at Northern Inyo Hospital. I really want to get my hands on the robot, the thrill of victory but the agony of defeat , so I will stick to the skill saw, lawn mower and swinging the hammer.


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