Paging the daVinci Robot: March 15, 2011

"Paging the da Vinci Robot." This newest surgical procedure is in high demand in the HealthPark Medical Center operating room. "The robot is getting a lot of use," smiles Dr. Paul DiGiorgi, a cardiothoracic surgeon on the medical staff of Lee Memorial Health System.

This state of the art surgery involves these tiny robotic hands. Through small incisions near the ribs, cardiothoracic surgeons can maneuver the robotic fingers into areas around the heart. Heart surgeries were often considered a last resort, until now. "Many times, it's actually considered the first option," explains Dr. DiGiorgi. "They'll specifically refer patients in for a minimally invasive approach for robotic surgery."

Even patients themselves have been inquiring about the robot. But not everyone is a candidate. "That's really our responsibility to make sure we educate everybody, not just the patients, but also our refers, that everyone knows what's available to help each patient that might have very different problems."

Each patient must be evaluated on an individual basis to determine if robotic surgery is right for them. "What's more specific to robotic surgery sometimes is that we look specifically at the anatomy of the valve or the contraries in relationship to the chest wall." Sometimes we'll look more specifically at any disease they might have in their aorta which can have more of an impact on those particular patients."

Because this procedure involves less scarring, very little pain and faster recovery, the popularity of the da Vinci is soaring. All the more reason to discuss the pros and cons with your physician or cardiologist.