LSW students pilot surgery robot

rpulley@lsjournal.comMarch 12, 2014 

The Lee’s Summit West robotics team played doctor at Saint Luke’s East-Lee’s Summit Hospital, trying out the new da Vinci Surgical System.

The hospital recently acquired the $1.6 million upgrade to replace its current surgical robot. The robot is used primarily for neurological, prostate and gynecological procedures. “For our great outcomes, it’s worth it,” said CEO Ron Baker.

Surgeons have been practicing at the controls of the robot and Saint Lukes invited the high school students to come look at the machine March 7 and give it a spin.

The hospital is paired with LSW in the Lee’s Summit School District’s Partners in Education program.

Baker said it was exciting to work with students and encourage them to consider using their interest in electronics in the medical field, or “Maybe some of them will decided to become surgeons,” he said.

The robot’s small tools can be inserted through small incisions in the patient. With the new robot, some procedures can be completed making only one port. Gas is used to inflate the abdomen to create room for the arms to move and surgeon to see.

The small tools that operate from the end of the robot arms can readily reach areas that doctors had difficulty getting their hands too, said Dianne Rood, clinical coordinator for the operating room.

There is much less trauma for the patient, Rood said.

The new machine’s improvement includes a “wrist” for several of its tools that have a wider-range of motion than even the human wrist. It can rotate 540 degrees, said Jeff Kendall, a company representative that his helping the staff at Saint Luke’s train on the machine.

It works like this. There are four arms that a variety of tools can be attached to from scissors to grippers, about 80 in all, Kendall said. The surgeon sits at a console and puts two fingers and a thumb into three rings that are attached to arms that transmit the user’s movements to a computer, which precisely directs the robots arms. The doctor is observing the tools and tissue in the console. An infrared beam is cast across the console, monitoring the doctor’s head so that if the doctor pulls away to look outside, the robot arms lock in place to prevent any accidental movement. A camera engaged by a foot pedal, can provide views of different magnification. Monitors display the surgery so nurses assisting the doctor or others can observe what’s happening.

If tools need to be switched during a procedure, the computer will remember its last position and once the surgical nurse as installed the appropriate tool on an arm, the computer moves it to within three millimeters of the previous position.

The machine is used primarily for neurological, prostate and gynecological procedures, Baker said.

The students’ response “Cool.”

Lee's Summit Journal is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service