RF Hospital’s new robot: ‘This…is technically an extension of my hands’River Falls Area Hospital is scheduled to do its first robotic surgery using the newly purchased da Vinci system on Wednesday, Dec. 21.
By: Phil Pfuehler, River Falls Journal
River Falls Area Hospital is scheduled to do its first robotic surgery using the newly purchased da Vinci system on Wednesday, Dec. 21.
Spokeswoman Beth Nelson said RFAH is the first hospital in western Wisconsin to use da Vinci -- the latest medical technology that blends three-dimensional, high definition endoscopy with state-of-the-art robotic operating instruments to virtually extend the surgeon’s eyes and hands.
“The da Vinci System is an exciting addition for River Falls Area Hospital’s surgery program,” said Dr. Kevin Hallman, who is also medical director of the robotics program. “The robotic surgery system provides surgeons greater than twice the viewing resolution and 20 percent more viewing area.
“This means improved clarity and detail of tissue planes and anatomy -- critical when performing delicate dissection or in reconstructive procedures.”
Hallman, an OB/GYN specialist at RFAH for seven years, is trained in the robotic technology. He has operated on more than two-dozen River Falls patients with it already, but always after traveling with them to United Hospital in St. Paul.
“The instrumentation has a much greater range than the human wrist that is used in open surgery,” he said. “It’s breakthrough technology, and now we’ve got it right here in River Falls.”
Added Dr. Peter Dahlberg, thoracic surgeon with the River Falls Medical Clinic: “For many surgeons, using the da Vinci System is the way to go when choosing endoscopic surgery.
“In our experience, this has meant a better operation for the patient with reduced complications, hospital stays and recovery time. We’ve only started exploring all the capabilities of this system.”
Instead of performing the surgery by the patient’s side, doctors work from a console several feet away.
They view 3D images captured by cameras inside the patient and control the surgical instruments through robotic arms.
“This robot is technically an extension of my hands,” said Hallman. “I can physically take out a larger tumor with very little damage to the tissue surrounding the tumor.
“This is very important for women who are choosing this surgery and want the ability to potentially have children in the future.”
What this means is that surgeons at RFAH and Rivers Cancer Center can now offer patients the most advanced technology for minimally invasive urological and gynecological procedures.
Areawide, the robot technology is only available in Eau Claire and at these three Twin Cities hospitals: United (St. Paul), Mercy (Coon Rapids, Minn.) and Abbott-Northwestern (Minneapolis).
Bill Frommelt, RFAH operations director, says that besides Hallman and Dahlberg, two urologists, Bob Gaertner and Chris Knoedler, are already trained to use da Vinci. Knoedler did Prochnow’s prostate removal surgery with the robotic system.
RFAH nurses are also being trained in the procedures and protocols of the new system.
Joan Kidd, RFAH surgical manager, got the da Vinci System going in 2006 when she was at United Hospital in St. Paul. She will repeat this role as da Vinci gets underway in River Falls.
For more information about RFAH and the new da Vinci System, go to the hospital’s website at riverfallsareahospital.com and click on hospital services, then the surgery page.
For more on this story, please read the Dec. 1 print edition of the River Falls Journal.