During part of the two-and-one-half hour laparoscopic procedure to reconstruct the kidney's drainage system, called a pyeloplasty, Dr. Peter Schulam, Chief of the Division of Endourology and Laparoscopy at UCLA Medical Center, sat at the ZEUS console on the controls which operate the "arms" of the ZEUS robot. Dr. Schulam performed the surgery while viewing a magnified video image from inside the patient's body, on his console screen.
"We are very pleased that the surgery went so well", stated Dr. Schulam. "Robotic surgery is the wave of the future and we hope to incorporate ZEUS in more procedures." Patient Fay Clapp, a fourth-year psychology student at UCLA, had been diagnosed with a congenital defect causing an obstruction in the kidney drainage system. Fay Clapp had been experiencing pain on her right side and doctors found that one of her kidneys was only functioning at 30 percent. She will be released after just a couple of days in the hospital and is eager to resume her academic and other activities including running and working out.
Although not common, the congenital disorder, called a ureteral pelvis junction obstruction, can be corrected laparoscopically. In laparoscopic surgery, a tiny camera is inserted into the body and sends back images to a video screen, allowing the surgeon to perform a less invasive procedure.
According to Dr. Schulam, robotic surgery offers better control, such as avoiding hand tremors, as well as allowing more range of motion than normally found with laparoscopic instruments. Robotics are part of the trend toward minimally invasive surgery, which also benefits patients with shorter recovery times and reduced pain and trauma. UCLA is incorporating more robotic surgery, both clinically and educationally to help train future surgeons.
The ZEUS Robotic Surgical System is designed for minimally invasive microsurgical procedures. ZEUS is a product of Computer Motion Inc., a high-tech medical device company that develops, manufactures and markets computer-enhanced and robotic surgical systems. A ZEUS system was used in the world's first transatlantic telesurgery in September 2001 when a surgeon in New York operated on a patient located in France.
You can read the account of the transatlantic procedure in the VMW October 2001 article Surgeons perform successful near real time telesurgery from New York on patient in France. More news on the training programme for robotic surgery is available in the VMW December 2001 article Computer Motion awarded $2 million to combine surgical robotics with telemedicine.