Section: News

Knox Community Hospital acquires robotic surgical system

On Oct. 19, the Knox Community Hospital (KCH) announced its recent acquisition of a da Vinci Xi surgical system. 

The robotic system is designed to help with minimally invasive surgeries, which tend to result in shorter hospital stays and faster recovery times.  It was first used in an operation on Oct. 23, under the guidance of Dr. Tamara Holzer.

According to the KCH website, the da Vinci system engages in “robotic-assisted” surgery under the control of a specially trained surgeon. Provided a three-dimensional view of the treatment area, the specialist guides the robot’s every move with a detailed control panel. The robot thereby delivers smaller incisions, which, according to KCH, results in “reduced blood loss, scarring, and risk of infection.” A surgical patient can then expect less pain, a speedier recovery and a decreased need for pain medication as a result of the machine’s intervention.

The da Vinci Xi surgical system has no autonomous function, according to KCH. In response to one frequently asked question on their website, they write that “the robot is incapable of doing anything without the surgeon performing the control panel’s correlating movements.” They also explain after another question that the most typical uses for the da Vinci system are laparoscopic procedures, hernia repairs and bowel surgeries. According to the National Institute of Health, thyroid and prostate procedures also comprise a large portion of the system’s use.

Currently, the Department of Speciality Care at KCH has trained three provider clinics in their network to use the da Vinci surgical system: obstetrics & gynecology, urology and general surgery. With Holzer’s operation, the general surgery clinic became the first to operate the new system in Knox County, according to the Mount Vernon News.

According to a 2010 New England Journal of Medicine paper, a robotic surgical system like the da Vinci costs anywhere from $1 million to $2.5 million dollars, and specialists must perform up to 250 operations to be considered proficient in the system’s use. Out-of-pocket costs for patients undergoing procedures and diagnoses are also higher under robotic-assisted surgery, and patients are not always reimbursed by insurance companies.

Still, Holzer pointed out the benefits that this new system brings. “We may be a community hospital, but we’ve got everything that the large hospitals in the city have, and you just get more personal care,” she told the News. Many patients may find the faster and less painful recovery to be worth the price tag, Holzer noted. 

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