Research & Technology, Big Rapids Hospital

Robot-assisted surgery introduced at Big Rapids Hospital

Procedures begin week of August 7

BIG RAPIDS, Mich., July 28, 2017 – Minimally-invasive surgery at Spectrum Health Big Rapids Hospital is taking a high-tech leap forward with the installation of a da Vinci robotic-assisted surgery system.

The da Vinci System is a robotic-assisted surgical technology that enables the surgeon to operate through a few small incisions, like traditional laparoscopy, instead of a large open incision. The difference is that instead of directly manipulating the instruments, the surgeon uses da Vinci’s robotic-assisted multiple mechanical arms to translate hand movements into smaller, precise movements of tiny instruments inside the patient’s body. Those movements exceed the capabilities of the hand of even a skilled surgeon.

The surgeon sits at a console, looking at a high definition, 3D image of the surgical site captured by a tiny camera on one of the device’s arms. The system provides the surgeon with enhanced vision, precision and control.

First use: general surgery

The da Vinci® Surgical System will first be used at Big Rapids Hospital for general surgery procedures—initially hernia and gall bladder operations. Soon gynecological surgery will be introduced. Other types of surgery will be evaluated for introduction over time.

General surgery procedures are planned to begin the week of August 7. A community open house is being planned at the hospital for September 28, from 6 to 8 p.m.

Dr. Mark Haan, general surgeon and medical director of surgical services at Big Rapids Hospital, said the da Vinci system offers “break-through capabilities,” for Big Rapids-based surgeons. “This remarkably sophisticated equipment opens up techniques that can be of great benefit to our patients.

“The da Vinci instruments are 100% under the control of the surgeon, but enhance the surgeon’s skills,” he added. “It is capable of precise and minute movements and flexibility beyond what the human hand can do.”

Patient benefits

Dr. Haan said the potential benefits can include, “…quicker recovery, fewer complications, less pain, less chance of switching to open surgery during procedures, shorter hospital stays, and lower readmission rates.”

“The da Vinci robotic-assist system is a proven technology that has been used for over three million procedures worldwide,” said Dr. Jack Parks, an obstetrician/gynecologist who first championed installation of the system. “It can be useful in a wide range of procedures that are appropriate for minimally-invasive techniques.”

Dr. Parks will soon engage in advanced education for use of the system in gynecological procedures, such as hysterectomy for endometriosis.

“This is yet another benefit of our joining Spectrum Health,” said Amy Verburg, director of surgical services. “It’s a benefit not only to local patients, but to the wider community in this part of the state. This is the only such equipment at a Spectrum Health hospital north of Grand Rapids. With it, we can serve the needs of people throughout the region for whom this type of surgery is an option.”

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