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Excellent Outcomes: Great Surgeons + Robotic Technology

It sounds like the stuff of science fiction, doesn’t it? Yet robotic-assisted surgeries are now the standard of care for many procedures. NOCHS has both the da Vinci® surgical system and the Mako System. Our surgeons use them daily to help patients achieve better health.

Meet Mako
We live in an age where technology is doing a lot of our work for us. It’s easy to think surgery is going that same direction when you hear people talking about “robots in the operating room.”

“There’s a common misperception out there that a robot is doing the surgery,” says Dr. Rick Baszler of Grand Haven Bone and Joint/Orthopaedic Associates of Muskegon “That’s not the case! The robotic arm is simply a tool that a surgeon uses to be more precise.”

Robotic-arm assisted surgery eliminates the guesswork of joint placement. “We can now put the joint in the perfect position,” says Dr. Dirk Bakker of the same office. “The robotic technology allows us to stress the joint, move it, and ensure that it’s in just the right place. Using the Mako System, we have a degree of precision that’s not possible any other way.”

Successful surgery still requires an excellent surgeon. The surgeon is making the decisions and evaluating the images, not the robotic arm. “Our group performed more than 1,400 joint replacements last year,” notes Dr. Baszler. “I have performed more than 2,800 total knee and total hip replacements myself. I use that experience to make decisions. Then I use the robotic arm to help me implement those decisions.”

Robotic-arm assisted surgery provides many more benefits to the patient. The first is a faster recovery time. Traditional joint replacement involves a two to three night hospital stay. A Mako Total Knee application requires a single night stay. There’s also less blood loss, less tissue displacement, fewer pain pills and faster rehab. Patients who have had one traditional joint replacement and then one Mako Total Knee say that it’s a lot less painful and they recover much faster.

Don’t Forget da Vinci
In 2000, the da Vinci surgical system was the first robotic system approved by the FDA for general laparoscopic surgery. The high magnification and nimble robotic arm allow surgeons to perform delicate procedures through very small incisions.

This means big benefits to patients. The da Vinci surgical system has become the standard of care for hysterectomies, urological procedures and pelvic reconstruction. Surgeons who use this tool can provide patients with less invasive surgery, faster recovery times, less pain and less dependence on pain medication. The expert surgeons in our women’s health and urology departments are highly qualified with this system.

The da Vinci surgical system is also transforming other specialty areas. NOCHS General Surgeon Dr. Zachary Horton uses this tool to help minimize the impact of procedures such as hernia repair. “Our goal is to fix problems with as little impact to the patient as possible,” he notes. “The da Vinci surgical system has a huge impact on recovery, especially in hernia repair surgery. This is traditionally a very painful surgery, but the pain can be minimized when performed robotically. When I use the da Vinci surgical system, many of my patients don’t even need pain medication. They can be back to normal in two to three days, rather than weeks. The robot helps me reduce trauma to the body, and that makes recovery easier.”

Robotic technology plays a significant role in other delicate surgeries such as pelvic reconstruction. This is becoming an increasingly important service, especially for women who have had larger babies, several children, or multiple births (ex: twins). A lot of vital organs occupy the relatively small pelvic space. If one is stretched too far or slips out of place, it can compromise the placement of the other organs around it. Our surgeons have shown that the da Vinci surgical system offers the best results for women who need to have their pelvic structure rebuilt.

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