Robot Spends Busy Year In Operating Room

COOS BAY – The robot known as “Surgio” lent a mechanical hand in 166 surgical procedures during its first year at Bay Area Hospital – far more than expected.

The daVinci Si Surgical System robot deploys miniature instruments, remotely controlled by a human doctor’s fingers, to conduct minimally invasive surgical procedures. It made its local debut in September 2013, letting doctors operate through incisions much smaller than those used in traditional “open” surgery.

Since then, the robot has helped with 85 general surgeries, 34 urological procedures and 47 gynecological procedures. Those numbers far exceed the 100 total surgeries initially projected for the robot’s first year.

Dr. Steven Tersigni, the first local doctor to use the robot, said he and his fellow surgeons have become more adept as they’ve gained experience with the robot. They can work more quickly than they did at first, and they’ve expanded the kinds of surgeries they perform with the robot.

Procedures have included a bladder reconstruction and removal of a stomach tumor, he said.

Patients have told Tersigni they’re pleased with the results of robotic surgery, mentioning their quick recovery and minimal pain after surgery.

“We’ve had a lot of good comments,” Tersigni said. “I’ve been surprised by the lack of pain.”

David Geist, a registered nurse who coordinates robotic surgery at Bay Area Hospital, said the most impressive improvement is in prostate surgery. Patients undergoing radical prostatectomy with traditional methods stay in the hospital an average of 77 hours – just over three days. Patients undergoing robotic-assisted prostatectomy average just 32 hours in the hospital.

The robot’s precision also reduces blood loss. When Tersigni uses the robot to separate an ailing gallbladder from the patient’s liver, he often can avoid severing even the tiniest blood vessels.

Along with Tersigni, three other surgeons work with the robot: Dr. Laurie Hamilton, Dr. Stephan Groth and Dr. Leo Kusuda. A fifth surgeon will begin training on the device soon. Tersigni said he expects robotic surgery to become more common as the technology continues improving.

“I think that it’s the future,” he said.

Bay Area Hospital’s robot was named “Surgio” in a contest among local fourth-grade classes. Children at both North Bend’s Lighthouse School and Coos Bay’s Millicoma School submitted the winning name.

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