Robot performs major surgery

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - It's a normal operating room, with one big difference sitting in the corner. The massive piece of machinery is the DaVinci Robot. It's state of the art technology helping to save lives, like Libby Malphrus. She was diagnosed with invasive cervical cancer last November.

"I can't even describe how devastated I was," she said, "Because I had been going to my gynecologist for 17 years, had my exams religiously every year, and never had an abnormal pap smear. I never had any concerns about cancer."

Libby's doctors said her best chance of beating the cancer was a radical hysterectomy. Her best option for minimal scarring and less recovery time was the DaVinci Robot.

"I was a little bit nervous," she said, "I mean, the thought of a robot doing surgery, sounds a little like science fiction. But I had done some research and what I kept coming back to is the DaVinci."

Dr. James Burke was Libby's Surgeon at the Anderson Cancer Institute at Memorial. He says at least nine radical hysterectomies have been performed using DaVinci. While he sits at a console ten feet away from the patient, he can move the robotic hands on the machine, exactly where he needs them

"It adds a lot of extra precision to our surgery, that we don't typically get with what we call 'straight sticks' which is straight laproscopic surgery" Dr. Burke explained, "The DaVinci can move and have more degrees of movement than my wrist has with the machine. It makes it much more amenable to doing surgery."

In fact, Dr. Burke says the incisions are smaller, there's less pain for the patient, and the recovery time is almost cut in half.

"The patients go home the next day. The recovery time is three to four weeks, versus six to eight weeks," Dr. Burke said.

"I was absolutely amazed the next morning, after my surgery," exclaimed Libby, "I was up, walking around, walking down the hall and back. It was absolutely amazing!"

Libby was able to go back to work a month later, and is now cancer free.

It's important to note, not everyone will be a candidate for the DaVinci surgical system. Memorial University Medical Center, and St. Joseph's Candler hospital system both have DaVinci robots.

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