NEWARK, N.J. -- Last fall, Newark resident Robert Hubbard learned he had prostate cancer. His physicians Domenico Savatta, MD, and Louis Galdieri, MD, urologists based in West Orange, recommended surgery to remove the prostate as his best course of treatment. They also offered him a new option, robotic surgery to remove the prostate, a method that would dramatically reduce his pain, scarring and recovery time.
For Mr. Hubbard, the decision was clear. He had friends with prostate cancer who had the traditional "open" operation to remove the prostate, a procedure that leaves an 8-inch scar, requires 2-4 days in the hospital and 4-6 weeks at home to recover. So on Dec. 13, Mr. Hubbard became the first patient to undergo robotic radical prostatectomy at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center. His case is believed to be the first of its kind in Essex County.
"The robotic procedure is better for the patient than an open operation," said Dr. Savatta. "There is less nerve damage, less bleeding, and a better quality of life afterwards." Men who have undergone the robotic procedure are able to return to work within 1-2 weeks of the operation, and their blood loss during the procedure is so minimal that they are no longer asked to donate their own blood pre-operatively, as patients undergoing the open operation are asked to do.
Dr. Galdieri, who has been performing the open prostatectomy for 20 years, said the use of robotics is changing medicine. "It is better to not transfuse a patient and to get them out of the hospital sooner. This is a very exciting option for men with prostate cancer."
The FDA-approved daVinci Surgical System, developed by Intuitive Surgical, gives surgeons the control, range of motion and 3-D visualization that is characteristic of open surgery. Robotic-assisted surgery incorporates techniques that allow the surgeon to operate through several small incisions about the size of a dime. The daVinci system consists of a surgeon's console, a patient-side cart, a high performance 3-D vision system and EndoWrist articulating instruments. In the operating room, the surgeon sits at the console with his hands on the master controls and his eyes on a 3-D image of the surgical field. From the patient-side cart, four robotic arms and one endoscope arm precisely translate the surgeon's movements through small incisions in the patient.
As predicted, Mr. Hubbard's experience went smoothly, and he was discharged a day and a half after his operation. He did not require any follow-up therapy. "Immediately after the operation I was up and around, and I felt good," he said. "Today I feel great and in good shape. My doctors were very good and I am happy with everything. I would definitely recommend this procedure."
Surgeons at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center have been using the daVinci Surgical System since the winter of 2003, when the medical center's cardiothoracic surgery team, under the direction of Craig Saunders, MD, began using it to perform procedures including mitral valve repair and "beating heart" coronary artery bypass graft surgery. Since then, Newark Beth Israel pediatric urologist Jeffrey Stock, MD, became the first physician in the state to use the daVinci system to perform robotic surgery on pediatric patients, in this case pyeloplasty, a procedure to repair a blockage in the kidney. Dr. Stock has since added other robotic procedures to the list of options he offers his patients.
To locate a physician who performs robotic surgery at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center, please call 1-800-THE-BETH.
Newark Beth Israel Medical Center is a 671-bed regional referral teaching hospital with specialized programs including heart and kidney transplantation, cardiac surgery, oncology, and maternal/child health services. Newark Beth Israel is the site of Children's Hospital of New Jersey, the state's premier hospital caring for children, with specialized services to treat ill and injured children from newborn through adolescent years, including more than 30 pediatric specialties.
Date: February 23, 2005
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