Robotic surgery making big difference for patients

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - da Vinci robots have been used in area operating rooms for several years now but a new generation of the surgery tool is showing up in five Carolinas Medical Center hospitals.

With very smooth and precise movements and incredible high-definition images for the surgeons to see what they're doing inside the body, a patients recovery time is much shorter.

When she spoke with WBTV, Susan Ebbs was only two weeks out of major surgery and said she felt great.

Before her surgery, her uterus was filled with large fibroid tumors.

"Unfortunately the only option I was offered was a hysterectomy but I wasn't interested in that.  I felt surely there was a less invasive option out there," Ebbs said.

She did the research and found Doctors David and Kim Newman.  They are a husband and wife team at Greater Carolinas Womens Center who told her a robot could remove the tumors and leave her uterus in tact.

"This device has joints in it like my wrists and my elbows so I can just reach out and the robot goes with me," said Dr. David Newman.

This next generation of da Vinci robot is now more precise.  It allows a doctor sitting at a console to manipulate robotic arms during surgery.

"You can do much more difficult cases in a short amount of time," said Dr. Kim Newman.

For the patient that means less blood loss, decreased risk of infection and, most important, a shorter recovery time.

There is a significant time and financial investment made by doctors to train to perform these surgeries.  Susan says it was difficult to find a doctor who is trained.

"A lot of people looked at that and thought it was too much work.  It was worth it to us to invest in that training to have a benefit for the patient," said Dr. David Newman.

This technology is being used in several other areas of medicine.  The doctors advise, if you are told you are a candidate for surgery, you should ask your doctor if a robot can do the job.

If they are not trained you can ask to be referred to someone who is.

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