Less than a month after announcing the addition of one of the health-care
industry's most advanced digital mammography technologies, Baxter
Regional Medical Center on Thursday rolled out another premiere medical
technology -- the da Vinci Surgical System.
The $1.2-million robotic device that has three mechanical arms has helped
to turn some surgical procedures that once took days in pre-op, surgery
and recovery into medical procedures completed in hours.
Elected officials, community leaders and BRMC staff members gathered in
the Lagerborg Dining Room on the BRMC campus to see the da Vinci system
demonstrated and explained by Dr. Christopher Bryant, a Mountain Home
physician with specialties in obstetrics, gynecology and gynecologic oncology,
and Dr. Daniel Decker, a urologist. Bryant said the da Vinci reduces many
surgeries from incisions big enough to make room for a doctor's hands
to tiny punctures to make way for da Vinci instruments as small as a half-centimeter
wide. As a result of the minimally invasive procedures, recovery times
also are reduced dramatically.
The technology was driven somewhat by the Department of Defense as the
Pentagon looked for ways to maximize the use of the medical surgical skills
of physicians working remotely at robotic controls in war zones, Bryant
said. Development of the technology accelerated rapidly beginning in 2000
with the Food and Drug Administration's approval of the first configurations
of robotic surgery.
"It's not the best thing since sliced bread, because the technology
will change," Bryant said. BRMC's da Vinci Surgical System, however,
with more than a decade of improvement from the earliest versions, harkens
to parallels between the early super-computers that filled vertical and
horizontal spaces as big as a football field to the same processing power
now in so-called smart telephones, Bryant said.
Decker told the group that the da Vinci and other technologies like it
in the surgical environments of the prostate gland are now the standard-of-care
in 90 percent of all surgery involving the prostate. The slightest increments
of motion in robot-assisted surgery helps to assure that delicate nerve
tissue associated with multiple functions of the prostate remains undisturbed
during surgery, he said.
The group also heard a personal testimony from Edith Messick, one of BRMC's
first to undergo da Vinci-assisted surgery guided by Bryant. The abdominal
surgery on Nov. 28 that not so long ago involved incisions and weeks of
recovery was completed in minutes with very little pain, she said.
"After two days I was back to my normal routine," she said. "I'm
"Da Vinci's advanced level of technology takes surgery beyond
the limits of the human hand," said Ron Peterson, BRMC's chief
executive officer. "This acquisition complements our goal of extending
minimally invasive surgery to the broadest possible base of patients.
It can be used for a multitude of procedures, including, but not limited
to: prostatectomy, hysterectomy, myomectomy, coronary artery bypass, mitral
valve repair and colorectal surgery," Peterson stated.
Following the meeting, Bryant said he and three other BRMC specialists
and a surgical team of 10 will keep the da Vinci very busy three days
a week. As other medical physicians and medical specialists continue in-service
education and skills training with da Vinci, the system is expected to
be in use daily, he said.
The da Vinci makers also have no shortage of selling points for its technology.
The company claims that da Vinci's enhanced three-dimensional, high-definition
vision field provides a view of tissue and anatomy superior to natural
sight. Surgical dexterity and precision is far greater than the human
hand, the company says. BRMC began about three months ago using the $1.7-million
Hologic Tomosynthesis Digital Mammography and Densitometry technology.
When the hospital announced the Hologic technology in November, it laid
claim to being the first hospital in Arkansas and Missouri to offer the
technology. The two technologies are the latest, said Peterson, in a long-term
$15-million upgrade to BRMC digital technologies.
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