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Innovation close to home

Published on Wednesday February 7, 2024
Davinci Robot

daVinci Xi Robotic Surgery System

In this month’s edition of Innovation Close to Home, we’re sharing more about the da Vinci Xi Robotic Surgical System that has recently been installed at Centra Southside Community Hospital (SCH). 

The benefits of this new system for both the patient and surgeon are extensive, so we sat down with Dr. Brian Charnock, a general surgeon who was the first acute care surgeon at Centra to be trained to use the system, to understand why the addition of the system to SCH’s operating room will improve patient care.

Many different kinds of surgery can be performed using the da Vinci Xi System. The equipment was first used for urological procedures approximately 20 years ago which led to it being used for deep pelvic and gynecological procedures. The field of general surgery began using it for intrabdominal procedures which expanded to use for elective surgeries. 

DavinciToday, Dr. Charnock primarily uses the system for trauma acute care. He explained that when he finished his medical training around two years ago, he had some experience with robotics but now it is standard practice for a surgeon to come out of training with extensive practice and the expectation that they will use robotic tools when performing surgeries.

Dr. Charnock also explained that in the acute care setting, surgeons are finding great uses for the system because it allows them to perform surgeries that would have typically been open in a minimally invasive way. From August 2023 to December 2023, Dr. Charnock performed 75 surgeries utilizing the da Vinci Xi, ten of which would have been open procedures if not for the robot. 

From the patient’s perspective, the major advantages include having much smaller incisions and less pain which means they can return to normal life, work and recreation more quickly. This also means that their chance for readmission to the hospital is also reduced. 

Chuck McCombie’s story serves as one example of the positive impact the technology has had. He was scheduled to have an inguinal hernia repair in May 2023, but a stress test revealed a blockage that required a stent and blood thinners. Being on blood thinners prevented Chuck from having the surgery because of the higher risk of bleeding due to the blood thinners during the procedure. When his hernia strangulated in November 2023, Chuck underwent emergency surgery to pull the strangulated bladder and bowel back into the abdomen. Part of his bowel had to be removed and the unharmed tissue was reattached. 

Without the robotic system, Dr. Charnock would have needed to perform open surgery which likely would have led to a weeklong hospital stay. However, using the da Vinci Xi system allowed the surgery to be minimally invasive so that Chuck was up and walking down the hallway the night of the surgery and discharged the next day. 

Chuck shared, “I was very blessed that Dr. Charnock and Centra were there when our family needed them. How bad an outcome could have taken place if Dr. Charnock and his robot were not there? I am 63 years old and my son is five. He is beautiful, he is autistic and he needs his dad.”

The benefits of using the system aren’t limited to just patients. The surgeon experiences multiple benefits using the tool as well. Dr. Charnock explained that everything he sees with the robot is in 3D, which is better than laparoscopic surgery because it’s only in 2D. Using the robot, the surgeon controls their camera and view instead of having someone else move the camera where they need to see. 

In its essence, Dr. Charnock explained, “It’s laparoscopy with better visuals. Things you couldn’t do before laparoscopically you can do now.” He also described how the apparatus provides him with better wrist control while removing awkward ergonomic positions because he sits in a chair when operating the robot. Overall, he feels that he has better control over parts of surgery that could be riskier which correlates to patient safety too.

Finally, Dr. Charnock explained that because of the extensive benefits to both patients and surgeons that come from utilizing the robotic system, the entire country is in a new transition beginning to utilize robotic surgery as much as possible. In the same way that laparoscopic surgery was a game changer in relation to open surgeries, surgeries using the da Vinci Xi system are now a game changer for both laparoscopic and open surgeries. In short, it’s the next wave of innovation, and Centra gets to be a part of it.

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