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News Dell Children's Medical Center Adds Robotic Surgery Device

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da Vinci® with simulator expands hospital's minimally invasive surgery program, offering benefits to patients, physicians and the community

AUSTIN, Texas - (Jan. 26, 2012) - Dell Children's Medical Center of Central Texas, a member of the Seton Healthcare Family, has expanded its minimally invasive surgical options for children with the newest robotic surgical system da Vinci® Si™. The technology is accompanied by a teaching simulator, bolstering Dell Children's extensive medical staff training offerings.

Dell Children's is the first free-standing pediatric hospital in Texas to acquire the latest robotic surgery device with teaching simulator.

"Dell Children's has developed a minimally invasive surgery program for children on par with other leading pediatric hospitals across the country," said Dr. Robert Schlechter, Dell Children's surgeon-in-chief.

The surgical landscape has been revolutionized by minimally invasive techniques over the last decade. These techniques-which include endoscopic, thoracoscopic, laparoscopic and robotic surgery-have helped to evolve the field of medicine offering. When medically appropriate, these techniques offer additional clinical benefits and efficiency in the operating room, with minimal disruption to patients' lives.

"Potential benefits for patients and physicians include less pain, shorter hospital stays, and better cosmetic result versus traditional surgery," Dr. Schlechter remarked.

Evidence has shown that minimally invasive procedures can also reduce hospital costs (decreased hospital length of stay) and "community" costs (caregivers return to work quicker, kids show decreased school absenteeism and less loss of state funding to schools).

Though referred to as a "robot," the da Vinci cannot act independently. Procedures are completely controlled by a trained surgeon.

"It's still our hands doing the procedure, yet, the da Vinci offers precision, dexterity and control-key factors for helping to achieve the best possible outcomes for patients," said Dr. Danielle Sweeney, pediatric urologist at Children's Urology of Central Texas and Dell Children's.

The robotic surgical system seamlessly translates the surgeon's hand motions into more exact movements. The 3-D visualization, computer-enhanced motion control and increased range of motion allow for delicate surgical procedures in children to be performed with tiny keyhole incisions with enhanced precision.

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(Dr. Danielle Sweeney, demonstrates the technology's teaching simulator)

The Dell Children's da Vinci is currently being used for pediatric urological procedures. Dr. Sweeney was the first pediatric surgeon in Central Texas' to be certified on the hospitals new robotic system. She has been performing robotic pediatric urologic procedures since 2009 using Seton Medical Center Austin's da Vinci robot.

"Having the the device on-site at Dell Children's will broaden its application to multiple pediatric conditions," Dr. Sweeney added.

The teaching simulator allows surgeons to use virtual needles and objects to perform a variety of training exercises and improve their proficiency before an operation.

Pediatric general surgeons are next in line to begin training on the teaching simulator, expanding robotic surgical options at the hospital to include anti-reflux operations, intestinal resections and repair of complex congenital abnormalities.

Dr. Schlechter added that another advantage of the simulator is that "the device also serves as a recruitment tool for attracting leading pediatric specialists to Central Texas."

Fast facts

  • Dell Children's minimally invasive surgical program offers pioneering surgical therapy to infants, teens and young adults.
  • The hospital's pediatric surgeons are experts in endoscopic, thoracoscopic, laparoscopic, and other minimally invasive surgical techniques for a range of thoracic and abdominal conditions including appendicitis, bowel resection, cholecystectomies, kidney reconstruction and others.
  • Dell Children's is the first free-standing pediatric hospital in Texas to acquire the da Vinci® Si™ surgical system with teaching simulator.
  • Data demonstrates that the use of minimally invasive and robotic surgery decreases postoperative pain, reduced length of hospitalization, improves cosmetic results, and increases patient and parent satisfaction.

The Seton Healthcare Family now has four robotic surgical devices-da Vinci systems at Seton Medical Center Austin, Seton Medical Center Williamson and Dell Children's and CyberKnife at University Medical Center Brackenridge.

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