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SBUMC first on LI & NYC with new state-of-the-art HD da Vinci Robotic Surgical System



SBUMC Recruits Nationally Renowned Surgeon to Head Minimally Invasive Program

Stony Brook University Medical Center became the first on Long Island and in New York City to acquire the da Vinci® S HD™ Surgical System, the most technically advanced da Vinci® robotic-assisted surgical system. The new da Vinci robot makes it possible for surgeons to perform complex procedures without large incisions by way of superior visualization, enhanced dexterity and greater precision, which ultimately raises the standard of care. Patients may experience less pain, blood loss and scarring resulting from procedures performed with the da Vinci robot. They also experience shorter recovery times and better outcomes, compared to conventional surgery.

SBUMC invested approximately $2.5 million to purchase and activate the da Vinci robot. Initially, it will be used to treat prostate cancer patients needing radical prostatectomy. However, plans are underway to incorporate the da Vinci robot for other urologic procedures, as well as for applications in general, cardiac, gynecologic and pediatric surgery.

Stony Brook University Medical Center recruited Rahuldev (Rahul) Bhalla, M.D., a nationally recognized expert in minimally invasive and robotic surgery, as Director of Minimally Invasive and Robotic Surgery. Dr. Bhalla’s appointment is a homecoming of sorts – he completed residencies in Urology and Surgery at Stony Brook University School of Medicine. Following his residency training at Stony Brook, he completed a fellowship in Robotics, Laparoscopic & Oncologic Surgery at Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle, after which he spent nearly four years at University of Medicine & Dentistry of New Jersey in Newark where he started a robotic surgery program. As Assistant Professor in the Department of Urology at Stony Brook, Dr. Bhalla will also proctor faculty and residents on the use and capabilities of the surgical system.

“We are very pleased to have the opportunity to be the first institution to place the newest, most sophisticated da Vinci robot into practice on Long Island,” says Steven L. Strongwater, M.D., CEO of SBUMC. “Many of our patients will benefit from the advantages of this highly sophisticated tool as more of our surgeons are trained under Dr. Bhalla,” adds Dr. Strongwater.

The da Vinci robot provides surgeons with an alternative to both traditional open surgery and conventional laparoscopy. When using the system, a surgeon’s hands are at the controls of a robotic platform, an ergonomically designed console which includes four interactive robotic arms and a vision system. Powered by the technology, the system scales, filters and seamlessly translates the surgeon’s hand movements during an endoscopic procedure into more precise movements via a set of high-tech instruments.

Unlike open surgery and conventional laparoscopy, the da Vinci System’s high-resolution 3D viewer provides surgeons with an immersive visual experience. Surgeons view target anatomy at high magnification and in brilliant colors with a natural depth of field. The system also integrates 3D HD endoscopy and robotic technology. This virtually extends the surgeon’s eyes and hands into the surgical field, providing surgeons with twice the viewing resolution and 20 percent more viewing area compared to conventional methods.

“All of these features translate to improved clarity and detail of tissue planes and anatomy, critical when performing delicate dissection or in reconstructive procedures,” says Dr. Bhalla, who is scheduled to perform the first da Vinci robot procedure – a radical prostatectomy – at Stony Brook in mid-September.

Dr. Bhalla emphasizes that a da Vinci procedure offers all the potential benefits of a minimally invasive procedure, such as less pain, a quicker recovery time, and a faster return to normal activities. He adds that some clinical studies suggest that the da Vinci robot may lead to better clinical outcomes compared with open or laparoscopic surgery. For example, prostatectomy patients treated with the da Vinci robot may have lower incidence of incontinence and impotence than those treated by standard surgical methods.

“This robotic-assisted surgical system will help us to greatly enhance many of our surgical capabilities,” adds Wayne Waltzer, M.D., Chairman of the Department of Urology. “We will consider using the robot for procedures on a case-by-case basis, particularly where delicate maneuvers or minimally invasive procedures may be most beneficial to patients.”

The Department of Urology, recently ranked among the top 50 best practices for Urology in hospitals in America by U.S. News & World Report (August 2007), is the first department to incorporate the system into its surgical therapeutics practice at SBUMC.

The da Vinci S HD Surgical System is the latest model in a line of robotic-assisted surgical systems produced by Intuitive Surgical, based in Sunnyvale, Calif. The system was part of a revolutionary breakthrough in surgical techniques in the late 1990s using robotic-assisted technology.
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