POCATELLO, Idaho (KIFI/KIDK) - Portneuf Medical Center surgeons performed four procedures using the hospital's robotic unit Tuesday. The second procedure, a hysterectomy, was the hospital's 2,000th case using the system.
While the hospital has had the machine since 2011, 1,400 of the now 2,002 procedures have been performed in the past three years.
Surgeon Drew McRoberts said there was some hesitancy among surgeons to use the device at first, but even then it was mostly used for urology and gynecology.
"It works very well for that," he said. But the "revolution" began when surgeons discovered they were able to use the device in other areas of the abdominal cavity.
"For example, operating on gal bladders, operating on the stomach, operating on the intestines. Things like that," McRoberts explained.
McRoberts performed his 400th procedure Monday. He says hernia surgery is the most commonly done with the device due to the benefit it has on the patient.
"They have much less post-operative discomfort, a much quicker return to normal activity," he said.
But it doesn't stop there. McRoberts said pretty much any procedure that can be done laparoscopically can now be done with robotics.
"And the advantages of using the robot then are: there's better visualization and more precise tissue dissection, which translates into quicker recovery for the patients."
A common misconception is that the robots perform most of the work, but McRoberts said that's not the case at all.
"The robot is a very complicated piece of machinery, but it only works with us at the controls."
To give an example of just what kind of difference the machine makes, McRoberts said he's performed groin hernia surgery, a procedure that normally requires about six weeks of recovery, on ISU football players who had much quicker recoveries.
"Some of the ISU football players we've had play in games less than three weeks after they've had their repair."
The hospital is always busy with these procedures. While some other area hospitals may have also hit the 2,000 case mark, Portneuf has done it with only one machine.
"There's no question that our robot is the busiest robot around. We're doing more cases with our single robot than a lot of other places do with two or three," McRoberts said.
In fact, McRoberts said that Portneuf's robot is the busiest in the entire Ardent system, "and that's nationwide," he added.
The hospital recently purchased and is in the process of constructing a newer unit that will run alongside the one currently in place starting in April.
With the new unit, the hospital anticipates a higher number of procedures will be performed, leaving McRoberts to start looking ahead to the 3,000th case.
"I would anticipate we're going to hit 3,000 within the next two years. We're performing at over 500 a year currently, so we'll definitely be there."