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11.07.2017

UHealth Reaches Landmark 5,000 Robotic Surgeries with da Vinci Xi System

There’s nothing magical about the number 5,000, Dr. Dipen Parekh says, but the fact that Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center and University of Miami Hospital recently exceeded that number of procedures with the breakthrough da Vinci Xi Surgical System “indicates very clearly for patients that they should have a very, very high level of confidence coming here for robotic surgeries because this is what we do day in and day out, in almost every area of the body.”

The University of Miami was the first academic medical center in the world to get the da Vinci Xi, in 2014. And while many other centers have it now, physicians come from all over the world to learn from UHealth’s expertise.

“The health system has invested wisely in robotic surgery because we want to be at the forefront of providing cutting-edge technology to our patients in the hands of cutting-edge doctors,” said Parekh, who is chair of urology, director of robotic surgery, the Victor A. Politano Endowed Chair in Urology, and chief clinical officer of the University of Miami Health System.

The Miller School of Medicine is leading the first multicenter study of the benefits of robotic surgery. “There have been over 4 million surgeries since the inception of robotic surgeries and there has not been a single multicenter prospective randomized trial before this,” Parekh said. “We led the efforts toward a multicenter study, because this is the ideal way to evaluate any new technology.”

Laurence R. Sands, M.D., MBA, chief of the Division of Colon and Rectal Surgery in the DeWitt Daughtry Family Department of Surgery, can’t say enough about the “really incredible” advances made possible by the da Vinci Xi.

“One of the key elements of the robot is that the visuals are so much better – it gives you a three-dimensional picture inside the patient’s body with an incredible view of the anatomy,” he said. “You can clearly see the structures much better with the technology of the robot than you can with traditional equipment. And if you can see it better, you can do the surgery safer.”

The da Vinci Xi system’s overhead arm architecture provides surgeons anatomical access from virtually any position, simplifying multi-quadrant surgeries. Smaller, thinner arms along with longer instrument shafts allow greater range of motion and more flexibility than ever before.

Sands says the wrist motions that surgeons use when the robot is inside the abdomen are less disruptive, which means less discomfort for the patient, and faster recovery. “You can drive the camera right up to the site you want to see, then do the resection in a relatively bloodless way.”

UM gynecologic oncologists are equally enthusiastic about the visualization and dexterity made possible by the da Vinci Xi. “One of the things we do robotically is sentinel lymph node biopsies where we inject immunofluorescent green dye that helps us identify those lymph nodes that are most likely to be involved with cancer,” said Brian Slomovitz, M.D., co-leader of Sylvester’s Gynecologic Cancers Site Disease Group and director of the Division of Gynecologic Oncology at the Miller School. “This yields fewer post-operative complications and ensures that we only take out the things we need to take out.”

The four board-certified gynecologic oncologists use the robots for cervical, endometrial, and early stage ovarian cancer, and benign gynecologists use it as well. “We’re actually the specialty that created minimally invasive surgery,” Slomovitz said. “We always like to push the envelope with technology.”

The number of patients seeking UHealth’s academic expertise at robotic surgery continues to grow. “For us it’s been very nice because patients are seeking us out for the work,” Sands said. “They want smaller incisions, quicker recovery, and a faster return to their basic functions.”

“The incredible volume of da Vinci procedures our surgeons have done is great for patients throughout South Florida, and beyond,” said Michael Gittelman, chief executive officer of University of Miami Hospital. “We’re the only academic model here, and that makes all the difference in precision, safety, and speed of recovery for our patients.”

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