Healthline: Newest surgical robot operating in Baton Rouge

The four arms of the da Vinci XI robot are seen attached to a patient undergoing Nissen fundoplication (Source: WAFB)
The four arms of the da Vinci XI robot are seen attached to a patient undergoing Nissen fundoplication (Source: WAFB)

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The newest version of an advanced surgical robot is now performing operations at Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center. It's called da Vinci XI, and the robot is proving to be as genius as its namesake.

9News was granted access to the Lake's OR as a 65-year-old woman underwent a procedure called Nissen fundoplication to fix severe acid reflux. Dr. J.J. Tabor is one of several surgeons trained to use the robot.

"Our patients are leaving the hospital three or four days, sometimes a week sooner with less post-operative complications, with less cardiopulmonary complications, and their overall quality of life is improved," Tabor said.

The robot makes laparoscopic surgery even more precise. Four small incisions are made before da Vinci's arms are connected to surgical instruments and an HD camera. It sometimes looks like the robot moves on its own, but Dr. Tabor sits at a computer console a few feet away, controlling the robotic arms through complex movements of his hands and feet. The camera provides a 3D view inside the patient's body, giving surgeons the opportunity to work deeper without a large incision.

"It allows some surgeons who are not as adept at laparoscopic surgeries to perform more complex surgeries from a minimally-invasive technique, and it also allows the surgeon who is advanced at laparoscopy to perform even more advanced operations," Tabor added.

The da Vinci XI has only been in use at OLOL since January, but since 2010 the hospital has performed over 1,300 procedures with a previous model. The XI is more versatile than its predecessors and was optimized to perform more complex, multi-quadrant surgeries. It's used for a variety of operations, including hernia, weight loss, the removal of pancreatic and kidney tumors, heart care, ENT (ear, nose and throat, and gynecological conditions.

"We're not using the robot to create new operations," Tabor explained. "We are performing the same – for the most part – tried and true operations that have been around for years. We're just using the robot to perform them in a more minimally-invasive fashion."

Not only are procedure and recovery times faster, but patients are also experiencing significantly less pain and blood loss. The smaller incisions also reduce the size of scars.

It only took Tabor about an hour to tie the top of his patient's stomach around the bottom of her esophagus, preventing future reflux of gastric acid. Then da Vinci was rolled away from the operating table to be prepped for the next patient.

"Now we're even working the robotic training into residency training, which we're heavily involved with, in trying to get some our upper-level residents to start learning the robot," Tabor said. "Our plan is to eventually have residents come out with some robotic training that allows them to go into fellowship more prepared."

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