- Associated Press - Monday, May 23, 2016

PASCAGOULA, Miss. (AP) - On May 9 at Singing River Health System, the hospital gave onlookers a demonstration of the Da Vinci robotic surgical system, showing how the evolution of technology can lead to advancements within the medical field.

Urologist Dr. David L. Spencer of South Mississippi Urology pointed out the capabilities of the surgical system. He said the advancement of this technology will make surgery a lot “simpler.”

“What’s nice about this system specifically is that it will not only allow us to work in one quadrant of the body, when you think about the belly having four quadrants, it can actually shift it without having to move the patient’s body, so we can work in a different quadrant,” he said. “Because of this advancement, this provides us more flexibility within the operating room.”

Flexibility is important, according to Spencer, because of the different body types the Da Vinci robot can suit.

“If you look at the way the ports are arranged, the arms can work so much closer together, you have a lot more flexibility and mobility to work on more patients, even kids if necessary,” he said.

Technology is responsible for many of the advancements within the world today and many used on a day-to-day basis, but with the good, there also comes some not so good advancements. Spencer said the Da Vinci robot has revolutionized the way surgeries are performed.

“Since it came on the market over ten years ago, particularly looking at prostatectomy, it has completely revolutionized the way that is done,” Spencer said. “Now, patients come in and have their prostates removed and go home the next day. Generally, the blood loss transfusion rate was probably upwards of ten percent on an open prostatectomy, now, since I have been here, I have never transfused anyone after a prostatectomy. The robot has been very advantageous and it has been a very successful program here that has helped a lot of people.”

Pascagoula resident Leonard Smith was diagnosed with prostate cancer over ten years ago and had his prostate removed with the Da Vinci robot. Smith was on hand and raved about the robot.

“The procedure went incredibly well,” Smith said. “The surgery started on a Friday afternoon after lunch and I went home on Saturday. I had my surgery at Ochsner’s in New Orleans because Mississippi did not have robots at the time. Two and a half weeks after the procedure, I was back at work with no complications. I later received my pathology report and I was cancer free and everything healed up fine. It was an incredible experience and I credit the Da Vinci robot for helping me to beat prostate cancer.”

Early on, Smith had reservations about the technology, but after reassurance by the doctor, he went through with the process.

“The only concern I had about the machine operating on me is that it would do something that the surgeon did not intend,” Smith said. “My surgeon quickly dispelled that and the machine does nothing other than what he does. If he moves his hand, head, or foot, from the controls, the robot locks and that sold me.”

When asked if he would recommend the surgery to others, Smith exclaimed, “Absolutely!”

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