First in Colorado: State of the Art Surgical Robot Comes to Montrose

By: Tim Ciesco Email
By: Tim Ciesco Email

This week Montrose Memorial Hospital will become the first in Colorado to use a robot called the Da Vinci SI to complete a surgery -- a technology that doctors say is changing the way they think about medicine.

From the season finale of the hit show "Grey's Anatomy" to the Western Slope, doctors say they can't wait to get their hands on the Da Vinci SI HD Surgical System.

"We're really excited to have it here," said Dr. Craig Peterson, a urologist at Montrose Memorial Hospital. "It really allows us to do surgery that we already do, better."

This third model of the Da Vinci machine -- which was just released in April 2009 -- is set to make it's debut in the Montrose Memorial operating room on Friday, June 19.

"It's the only one of these in the state so far," said Dr. Peterson.

While doctors admit they can't help but smile as they use the device, they say it should come as great news to patients as well.

"Time in the hospital is shorter, the time back to work is shorter," said Dr. Peterson. "The patients, I believe, basically do better."

The Da Vinci is a three piece machine that allows doctors to control a series of small robotic arms using their hands and feet that will perform each step of a surgical procedure.

"It really does feel like you're using your own hands inside the patient," said Dr. Peterson. "Just much smaller."

With the machine, doctors say incisions are smaller and will heal faster, and there's less blood loss during the surgery.

"Basically, it makes us look at surgery as a more viable option for patients who might not otherwise consider it," said Dr. Peterson.

Intuitive Surgical, the company behind the Da Vinci, says the machine and previous models of it are most heavily used for prostate cancer related surgeries and hysterectomies.

"This is the gold standard treatment," said Trent Beagle, Clinical Sales Manager for Intuitive Surgical. "Nearly eighty percent of prostate cancer cases were treated last year with this device."

But the company adds it can be used to perform many other surgeries as well.

"Minimally invasive cardiac surgery, where they can go through between the ribs without actually splitting the chest," said Beagle.

"This will definitely expand to general surgery," said Dr. Peterson.

The machine costs a whopping $1.8 million. Montrose Memorial says it will be worth every penny.

"We felt like we needed to offer that service here in our small town," said Dr. Peterson.

Montrose Memorial Hospital says for now the Da Vinci will only be used for prostate cancer treatment and hysterectomies. But as doctors become more comfortable with the technology, it says it hopes to use it for all kinds of general surgery procedures.

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