OU Health Setting the Standard With Advanced Robotics and Minimally Invasive Surgery

With more surgical robots and physicians trained to use them than any health system in Oklahoma, OU Health is leading health care in advanced robotic and minimally invasive surgery in the state, changing surgery as patients know it and educating physicians on cutting-edge surgical techniques that result in less pain, shorter hospital stays and quicker recovery times.

On Sept. 21, OU Health physicians and patients highlighted the health system’s advanced robotic and minimally invasive surgery options. OU Health has more robotic devices than any other health system in Oklahoma, with physicians performing robotic-assisted surgeries at OU Medical Center, The Children’s Hospital and OU Medical Center Edmond. Additionally, robotic and minimally invasive surgery at OU Health is offered in more specialties than anywhere else in the state, including colorectal, gastrointestinal, gynecology, head and neck, neurologic, thoracic and urologic surgeries – such as prostate and bladder – as well as other general and oncologic areas. The Children’s Hospital has the state’s only robotic device dedicated solely to pediatric surgeries.

Many hospitals offer robotic surgery, but statistics show that outcomes are better if the surgery is performed by experienced surgeons. OU Health physicians are equipped with unparalleled robotic expertise and advanced technology not offered anywhere else in the state.

Robotic surgery is a form of minimally invasive surgery that integrates 3-D high-definition video with mechanical arms and a computer. Skilled surgeons are able to guide tools to access hard-to-reach areas of the body using a viewing screen and special tools. Robotic technology allows a surgeon’s hand movements to be translated into smaller, more precise actions using tiny instruments during surgery.

Benefits of robotic surgery include smaller incisions, less scarring, reduced blood loss, fewer complications, reduced chance of infection, less pain, less need for pain medication and ultimately, shorter hospital stays.

“Robotic surgery provides patients an opportunity to return to their lives sooner,” said Michael Cookson, M.D., chair of the Robotic Surgery Program at OU Health and Department of Urology chair at the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine, OU Health’s academic partner.“The Robotic Surgery Program at OU Health gives Oklahomans across the state a wide range of surgical options for a variety of procedures ranging from simple hernia repairs to complex gastrointestinal cancer cases.”

More than 40 surgeons operate regularly with robotic technology, representing the largest such group in the state. OU Health’s collection of surgical robots includes:

  • The da Vinci Surgical System is used in many specialties to provide expert and precise surgical care. Its magnified-vision system gives surgeons a 3-D high-definition view into the operating area. Additionally, this robot provides an extended range of motion as its wristed instruments bend and rotate far greater than the human hand.
  • The Medrobotics Flex Robotic System is used primarily in colorectal and head-and-neck surgeries. Its design enables surgeons to operate on parts of the body previously difficult or impossible to reach. OU Health was the first health system in Oklahoma to use the Flex Robotic System for colorectal surgery.
  • The Synaptive Brightmatter system with Modus V is used specifically in neurosurgery utilizing an imaging method called diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) for surgical planning of every possible approach. This functionality allows surgeons to see details that can’t be seen with the naked eye and allows access to brain locations previously deemed inoperable.

Not only does OU Health lead the state in advanced robotic and minimally invasive surgery, but OU Health physicians took part in national research to establish minimally invasive surgery as a standard of care for certain diseases. Stephenson Cancer Center gynecologic oncologist Joan Walker, M.D., led a multi-center study that determined a minimally invasive approach to endometrial cancer surgery provides better outcomes, including reduction in pain, hospital stay, reduction in complications and improved quality of life, than the traditional standard of care did at the time. The use of robotic surgery allows physicians to translate these improvements into more complex surgeries, where laparoscopy can be challenging, so that fewer hysterectomies are requiring abdominal incisions. These practice-changing study results were published in November 2009 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, a high-impact oncology journal.

Additionally, OU Health trains the state’s future surgeons for robotic surgery through an extensive training lab for this advanced skill set.

For more information about robotics and minimally invasive surgery at OU Health, go to www.oumedicine.com/minimallyinvasivesurgery.