On Tuesday, Dr. Elaine Yin of Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center performed the hospital’s first procedure using the daVinci Surgical System — a $1.8 million robot that a physician remotely controls to perform minimally invasive surgical procedures.
Yin looked at a 3-D image of the surgical area as the daVinci translated her movements into precise, 360-degree movements of surgical instruments inside the patient. She removed the uterus of Karon Cushing by making five 1-centimeter incisions. In the past, these abdominal hysterectomies have involved 12- to 14-centimeter incisions. Smaller incisions mean reduced trauma to the body and faster recovery time.
Sierra Vista is the only hospital between Santa Barbara and Salinas to offer the technology, which the hospital expects to use for urological, gynecological, ear, nose and throat, and other general surgical procedures.
According to the company that manufactures the daVinci, 72 hospitals in California have the surgical system. Sierra Vista made the decision to acquire the machine because of physician interest and reports that patients were leaving the area for complicated procedures such as prostate surgery, according to hospital representatives. Use of the daVinci does not affect the cost of procedures and may reduce costs due to shorter hospital stays.
Cushing, 56, of San Luis Obispo asked to delay anesthetic until she was in the operating room so she could see the robot, which she described as a “Star Wars octopus” with several long arms. She wasn’t nervous about being the robot’s first patient. “I did it because there are more people that are going to need (surgeries), and the docs need to start using it,” she said.
Meet the daVinci Team of Surgeons at Sierra Vista