As the patient lies on the operating table, surrounded by a team of medical professionals, the colorectal surgeon takes his place at the robotic console. With the aid of advanced technology, the surgeon is able to perform a precise and minimally invasive procedure, navigating through the intricate pathways of the patient’s colon with ease. The robotic arms move in perfect sync with the surgeon’s hands, allowing for a level of precision and control that was once unimaginable. The future of surgical innovation is on full display.
Saint Alphonsus Colorectal Surgeon Dr. Sheev Dattani has performed over 500 robotic colorectal surgeries, utilizing the minimally invasive surgical approach to significantly reduce the patient’s length of hospital stay, as well as the likelihood of infection or additional complications.
“With robotic colon and rectal surgery, there’s a lot of very gentle dissection that’s going on and having those extra arms helps keep everything stable, and I can use these tools to help do the surgery,” Dattani said. “Some of them are vessel sealing devices which very carefully seal vessels. Another one is a titanium stapler, and then I have another instrument that helps me suture. It’s also very good because we’re working in very tight places in the abdomen–so for colorectal surgery, the robot’s perfect.”
Robotic surgical technology allows colorectal surgeons to achieve better results and reduces the chance of suture failure, which can lead to leakage of gastrointestinal contents, resulting in one of the most serious complications of bowel resection surgery. The national average leakage rate is up to 7%. With the robot, however, Dattani maintains a leakage rate of 1.8%.
Saint Alphonsus surgeon Dr. Christopher Reising focuses on robotic technology and minimally invasive surgery. He said the use of robotics is beneficial for a variety of surgeries beyond colorectal–from gynecologic oncology, urology, surgical oncology, to basic general surgery procedures, such as hernia removal, which are sometimes better suited with robotic technology, he added.
“Saint Alphonsus has invested a lot of resources in building a minimally invasive and robotics program. It’s part of our strategic plan to be able to provide that type of care for patients,” Reising said. “We’re seeing much, much less blood loss during cases, usually our blood loss is in the 10 to 20 CC’s per case. I think you’re going to see more advanced surgical procedures becoming less invasive over time with smaller incisions. And that’s been the paradigm shift with robotics.
Along with advancing tools that will continue to support early discharge and early return to function for patients, the technology will also help to decrease the need for narcotics use post-surgery as a result of the smaller incisions.
“We still sometimes have to give narcotics to some patients, but it’s generally a low amount,” Dattani added. “They see me with sometimes very bad problems but then being able to go home within just a day or two and return to mostly normal life, but make a very fast recovery through these small incisions. It’s a big reason why I love robotics.”
Multimodal pain management–optimizing non-narcotic medications that block different receptors in the body–would also play a role in reducing narcotic use post surgery in the future.
is AI in the future of robotics surgery?
Artificial intelligence has found its way in almost every industry, and it’s likely in the future of robotics surgery and healthcare, Dattani added.
“With artificial intelligence, it’s going to be allowing for more precise and autonomous surgery which is kind of scary to think about, but interesting,” he said. “Also, there’s telemedicine. I don’t think that’s going to come in the next 5, 10, 15 years, but it’s something that’s at least talked about in the robotic community and world.”
“That would include doing remote surgery, and to me, I like being right next to my patient, but it’s something that is going on in the robotic community and at least discussed with these companies.”r