Living Donor's Kidney Removed Using Robot

Porter Adventist Hospital Launches Robotics Institute To Advance Robotic Surgery

During a recent surgery at Porter Adventist Hospital, the surgeon removing a living organ donor's kidney performed the operation while seated about 10 feet away. In his place next to the patient was a da Vinci surgical robot.

The surgeon controls the robot using a remote console with 3-D imaging and foot and hand controls. The da Vinci surgical robot has advanced the precision and capabilities of laparoscopic procedures.

"I can move 10 millimeters and the tip of that instrument only moves 1 millimeter. So we can scale it 10:1. It takes out tremor," said Dr. Warren Kortz, a surgeon at Porter Adventist Hospital. "With the magnified vision and these tiny instruments, it really is enhancing human technical capability."

In a traditional open surgery for kidney removal, doctors would make two 8-inch incisions. In the robot-assisted laparoscopic surgery, four small incisions allow a 3-D camera, two robotic instruments and one traditional laparoscopic instrument to be inserted into the patient's abdomen.

"Anytime you've done a minimally invasive operation you've benefited the patient," Kortz said. "With the robotic interface, we can even improve on the minimally invasive approach in that we are decreasing the amount of blood loss, we are decreasing the trauma even further to the patient."

According to Kortz, other benefits of robot-assisted surgery are less risk of infection and much shorter recovery period

"In an open operation in the abdomen, you are talking several days in the hospital and several weeks to recovery," Kortz said. With a minimally invasive operation with the robotic interface, we are now down to a day or two in the hospital and really just a handful of days, perhaps a week until the patient's ready to resume their full activities."

A major technical advancement is in the da Vinci surgical instruments, which can mimic the movement of the human wrist. In this case, Kortz uses a grabber and scalpels, which use heat and radio frequency to dissect the kidney. When the dissection is complete, one of the small incisions is opened up a few of inches so the kidney can be removed.

Transforming open surgeries into minimally invasive procedures is one goal of Porter Adventist Hospital's newly launched Porter Robotics Institute, which brings together surgeons from disciplines to learn from one another and advance surgical techniques using the robot.

"It's really removed the surgeon from the patient with the technical interface that is more detailed than the human capabilities," Kortz said. "And when you push this forward into the future, our vision with the robotics institute here, is that almost all surgery, ultimately would move in this direction."

For more information about the Porter Robotics Institute and the types of surgeries currently being performed using this technology, visit Porterhosp.org.

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