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Public Invited to Test Drive Surgical Robot

Updated: 05/16/2014 7:15 AM
Created: 05/15/2014 2:12 PM WDIO.com
By: Brittany Falkers

Robot-assisted surgeries are making a big difference in operating rooms across the county.  St. Luke's Hospital in Duluth invites the public to learn more about the life-saving technology and is even giving them a chance give it a try. 

"I think there is a lot of misconceptions about what the robot is. So, I think it would be fun for people to actually see what it is to dispel myths or concerns that people have about the technology," Dr. Susan Goltz said. 

Goltz performs surgeries obstetrics and gynecology at St. Luke's.  She says robotic-assisted surgeries have had a very positive effect on her work - allowing for new procedures.  

"I feel that the quality of my care is actually a little bit better since using the robot.  My patients tend to have less postoperative pain.  There's less torque on the ports that we use and so they [patients] seem to recover a lot faster," Goltz said. 

St. Luke's is showcasing the daVinic surgical robot at an open house Monday, May 19.  It is a chance for the public to test drive the robot for themselves and get an inside look at the technology that is making a big difference in the OR. 

During surgery Goltz will sit at a control console in the operating room while an assistant is at the patient's bedside.  She manually controls the robot from that console and sees through a monitor.  Using the controls the robot duplicates her movements.  

Goltz says evolving technology allows a lot of dexterity and movement.  The microscopic "hands" of the robot move with a greater rotation that the human wrist. 

"The previous way that I did minimally invasive surgery, before the robot, there were no wrists.  The instruments were straight.  I tried to tie knots with something that was essentially like a chop stick," Goltz said. 

The daVinci robot acts much more like a surgeon's real hands.  "When I'm throwing stitches, sewing and cutting... I'm basically duplicating the motions I would use if I had a patient open and standing at the patient's bedside," Goltz said. 

St. Luke's uses the the technology for general, urologic, gynecologic and colorectal surgeries.  The benefits include smaller incisions for minimal scarring, less blood loss, fewer complications, shorter hospital stays and faster recovery. 

"The recovery is just phenomenal.  These patients are back at work in two to three weeks.  They generally go home the same day as surgery or the next day," Goltz said. 

WDIO was invited behind the scenes for a look at the daVinci robot Wednesday to get a preview of the technology before Monday's open house.  Good Morning Northland Anchor, Brittany Falkers, even tried it out operating on a familiar face - the operation board game. 

The public will get a chance to do something similar on Monday using games and simulations.  People will have the chance to sit in the driver's seat anytime between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. 

Plus, at 2 p.m., Goltz along with General Surgeon John Bollins, DO, will give brief presentations, followed by a Q&A session.  

"I think it's a wonderful opportunity," Gotlz said.  "It also is so fun to use and to be able to sit down at the counsel and actually play with it." 

The Open House "Test Drive" is Monday, May 19 by the cafeteria at St. Luke's Hospital 915 E. First Street, Duluth from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. 

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