Janesville25.8°

Mercy to offer robotic surgery

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FRANK J. SCHULTZ
June 27, 2009
— On the day that gloom about General Motors descended on Janesville, the city’s biggest employer rolled out its version of the future: a robot.

Patients, Mercy employees and others took turns Friday moving the robotic arms that will soon be performing surgery on prostates, uteruses and other organs.


Mercy Hospital is one of only five hospitals in the country with this machine, said to be the leader in the growing field of robot-assisted surgery.


Officially, it’s called the da Vinci Si HD dual-console robotic surgery system.


GM was on the mind of Dr. Nick Gianitsos, who noted Mercy Health System is now the city’s leading employer, and one that’s not leaving town.


Mercy didn’t simply buy a fancy new gadget, Gianitsos continued. “We’re in the process of trying to make Janesville a destination for robotic surgery.”


That means more visitors from southern Wisconsin, northern Illinois and possibly beyond, Gianitsos added.


That also means eventually hiring more surgeons, Gianitsos said.


Wisconsin is home to 23 other surgery robots, Gianitsos said, but this is the most advanced and only one of its kind in the Midwest.


Mercy plans to use the system initially for urology, general surgery and obstetrics/gynecology. They’ll expand to heart surgery within a year, Gianitsos said.


Mercy’s agreement with the robot’s maker forbids revealing the price, but Gianitsos said the investment is more than $2 million.


Will that cost drive up costs? Gianitsos said the machine actually holds costs down.


Because recovery time is so much faster, “we save almost two-and-a-half days of hospitalization (for a prostatectomy), which is a lot of money,” Gianitsos said.


Other advantages include less blood loss, fewer complications, less pain, less risk of infection, smaller incisions and faster recovery.


Gianitsos and fellow urologist Francis Kaveggia will perform Mercy’s first operation Monday.


They’ll use a machine with optics that allow them to see better than with the naked eye and use robotic arms that allow them to maneuver more easily in a small space than they could with their hands.


ON THE WEB

Mercy Hospital’s first robotic surgery will be on Monday. Anyone with a computer or cell phone with Twitter will be able to receive instant updates. While doctors operate on a 64-year old man, Mercy staff will send updates, including photos and video. The surgery is set for 9-11 a.m. To see the updates, visit Mercy’s Twitter page at http://twitter.com/mercyhealth. Non-Twitter users should go to http://search.twitter.com and search the keyword: #mercydavinci.



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