Advancing the Frontier of Robotic Assisted Laparoscopic Bariatric Surgery

We are pleased to announce that NOCHS’ surgeons are taking another step forward with the da Vinci Xi robot, this time in the field of bariatric surgery.  What does this mean for patients and physicians?

“We’re always trying to improve outcomes with less pain and faster recoveries,” says Dr. Krebill, Medical Director of the Bariatric Clinic at NOCHS.  “I’ve been using the da Vinci Robotic surgical system for my bariatric surgery patients since August, and it’s a good step forward compared to the laparoscopic technique. I would estimate that 80% of bariatric surgeries are performed laparoscopically, but that percentage is declining as we look to the future.”

What are the advantages for the patient?  “The da Vinci robot allows me to operate in smaller spaces within the abdomen using more precise movements that simply cannot be performed with the limited mobility of straight laparoscopic instruments,” notes Dr. Krebill.  “When performing surgery with the da Vinci, I sit at a console near the patient in the operating room. Through the console, I control a camera and tiny instruments used to perform your surgery through a few incisions about the size of your fingertip. The system delivers a 3D high-definition view of the surgical area magnified 10 times what the human eye sees. The “robot” translates every movement I make in real time, bending and rotating instruments that move like a human hand, but with greater range of motion. All this technology helps me avoid injury and deliver excellent weight loss results. It simply functions as a tool that enhances my ability to perform these sophisticated maneuvers. And all of that contributes to fewer complications and less pain for the patient.”

Pain control is a serious issue in all surgeries, given the stricter guidelines on opioid use in response to our country’s opioid epidemic. “My goal is to ultimately decrease the need for opioid prescriptions after abdominal surgery,” Dr. Krebill notes. “If I can reduce pain through use of the da Vinci robot, then I can help reduce the patient’s need for opioid pain control.”

Interestingly enough, the robotic arm also provides benefits to the surgeon as well.  “I’m actually sitting at a console to perform this surgery,” says Dr. Krebill.  “Previously, I would spend hours leaning over a patient and straining my body.  I think this technology is a great example of how to work smarter, not harder.  It has the capability to extend the practicing years of the surgeon while also providing better patient outcomes.”

Why bariatric surgery?

Weight impacts many aspects of overall health. Being overweight can lead to serious complications such as heart disease, diabetes, sleep apnea, osteoarthritis, and even some cancers. And it definitely impacts a person’s activity level, as well as their emotional wellbeing.

People with a Body Mass Index (BMI) over 40 find it very difficult to successfully lose and maintain weight loss without bariatric surgery. Many of them have traveled the vicious cycle of losing weight, only to regain what they lost and more.  Sometimes there is a physical reason why they cannot lose weight.  Sometimes there is an emotional component.  But whatever the reason, patients need a structured, long-term set of solutions to help them regain their health and vitality. That’s when bariatric surgery becomes the right choice.

Gold Standard Bariatric Care at NOCHS

Bariatric surgical professionals developed the Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Accreditation and Quality Improvement Program (MBSAQIP). Our Bariatric Clinic achieved this rigorous credentialing in 2016. This means we provide high quality patient care before, during, and after weight loss surgery for our patients. Some insurance programs require that patients go to an accredited facility. This accreditation makes it easy for tri-cities residents to receive excellent, covered care right at home.

We have also earned the Blue Distinction Center+ designation from Blue Cross Blue Shield.  A Blue Distinction Center+ is known for both its expertise and its cost efficiency in delivering that care. This designation helps consumers evaluate healthcare facilities, and select those that provide outstanding care.

Learn More

If you think Bariatric Surgery might be right for you, we invite you to visit our website or call the NOCHS Bariatric Clinic (616) 847.5489.

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