Thanks to robots, operations less invasive, recoveries faster
By Mike Hoeft
Robots are now in Bellin Health operating rooms, but they’re not going to put doctors and technicians out of work.
The robotics-assisted surgery program at Bellin Health is aimed at providing less-invasive surgery, which translates into quicker recovery and shorter hospital stays.
Bellin Health is the first hospital in Northeastern Wisconsin, and only the second in the state, to have robotics-assisted surgery, said George Kerwin, Bellin president and chief executive officer.
“Being able to provide our patients with skilled surgeons combined with the most advanced technology truly places Bellin in the forefront of minimally invasive surgical procedures,” Kerwin said.
The other state hospital, Aurora St. Luke’s Medical Center in Milwaukee, has been performing robotics-assisted surgeries since 2002.
On Wednesday, Bellin offered news media a glimpse into its program.
The operating room was staffed by the regular urology team of three physicians and three technicians. But there were differences from the routine as a result of the robotics-assisted surgery.
The lead surgeon guided the robotic arms from a nearby console that showed a three-dimensional image from a camera inside the patient.
There was hardly any blood to be seen. As several dozen people watched from an observation room, surgeons cut five holes the diameter of a pencil into the patient’s abdomen. Blood loss in robotics-assisted surgery is about the amount in a soda bottle cap.
Through those pencil-size holes, the surgery team inserted probes. On the ends of the instruments were the robot’s eyes and hands, giving access to hard-to-reach cavities of the body.
“A surgeon still directs the operation. The robot is an added tool,” said Dr. Thomas Geocaris of Surgery Specialists of Green Bay.