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Newest Technology in Robotic Surgery Hits Huntsville

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - There’s a new robot in town. The technology is groundbreaking and its home is right here in Huntsville at Crestwood Medical Center.The da Vinci Si just arrived at its new home this past Friday. This next generation of robotic-assisted surgery means if you ever need surgery, it could make recovery much faster and easier.

Dr. Michael Conrad is an OB/GYN in the Huntsville area and said the machine will help his patients heal sooner.

"It is minimally invasive, the recovery time for patients is far quicker, the pain they experience after surgery is far less,” said Dr. Conrad.Dr. Conrad says using the da Vinci Si is intuitive and precise.

“The machine senses with your finger motions where you need to go next, so there’s not a lot of wasted motion inside the operating room," Dr. Conrad said.  "So that’s what makes the operation so much more efficient.”Dr. Keith Jiminez, a Huntsville urologist, agrees.  He says it’s a much better system than with traditional laparoscopy.

“With straight instruments you have very little degrees of freedom. With this, we have seven degrees of freedom," said Dr. Jiminez. “We can manipulate the tips of our instrument and get to areas that are tight spaces that are more difficult with traditional laparoscopy.”The da Vinci Si is a $2 million investment for Crestwood Medical Center. It magnifies what the surgeon sees 10 times in high definition.  It also makes what they see 3D.

“It’s basically like saying the laparoscopy is about Windows 98, and this is an iPad 3,” said Dr. Conrad. “You have a much better ability to see where you need to go next, to keep the structures that you want to keep out of the surgical field from getting into harm’s way.”

Crestwood is only second in the state to have this technology, missing first by just a few days to Trinity Medical Center in Birmingham.

The da Vinci Si also has something called fluorescence imaging.

“It actually shows normal tissue in green, and darkens out malignant tissue, so we’re able to see through that camera system the difference while we’re operating,” said Dr. Jiminez.The da Vinci Si is being used on everything from prostate surgery to hysterectomies. The incisions are only 8.5mm. But in the near future they’ll be going through the belly button, making those incisions invisible.

With surgeries like hysterectomies, patients used to need six to eight weeks for recovery time. But not any more.

“We’re seeing four to five days with the da Vinci Si," said Dr. Conrad. "It’s just an amazing piece of equipment.”