First robotic-assisted surgery performed at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital to launch smart OR

Norfolk 30 September 2002For the first time, surgeons at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital are using Computer Motion's Zeus, a three-armed surgical robot, coupled with multiple robotic systems, to launch Sentara's integrated operating room of the future. Sentara Norfolk General Hospital's "smart" operating room is a marriage of robotics with some of the most advanced operating room equipment in the United States, surgical equipment so advanced it actually follows doctors' orders.


This "smart" operating room, based on a unique concept developed by Karl Storz Endoscopy, incorporates equipment from three national vendors including Karl Storz, Computer Motion, and Steris. Sentara Norfolk General Hospital's operating room of the future successfully integrates robotics with video, audio, and tele-mentoring equipment, allowing a remotely located physician to actively participate in the surgery.

Utilising the touch screen or voice control, surgeons operating in the new suite have the ability to adjust various aspects of the operating room equipment set-up and environment during surgery without disrupting the operative flow. A surgeon can control the light source, phone the lab, or video-conference with doctors down the hall or overseas, and even engage in a telepresence surgery-assist from a remote location.

Multiple voice-activated robotic systems such as Zeus, Aesop, Socrates, and Hermes, followed verbal commands given by urologist Dr. Michael Fabrizio. He performed the area's first Zeus-assisted laparoscopic radical prostatectomy, a minimally invasive technique to treat prostate cancer that utilises very tiny multiple incisions resulting in a faster recovery time and less pain for the patient.

During surgery, from a terminal adjacent to the patient, Zeus translated the surgeon's hand motions into precise microsurgical movements via robotic instruments. Aesop held and positioned a pencil-wide video camera or laparoscope inside the patient's body, with the image being projected on multiple video monitors throughout the operating room. This allowed for better co-ordination of instruments and tele-collaboration with surgical colleagues.

"We are thrilled about the increased precision that Zeus robotics brings to the surgical arena", stated Rodney F. Hochman, M.D., Chief Medical Officer of Sentara Healthcare. "It can improve patient outcomes and lead to new surgical options we have only dreamed about and allow delivery of medical procedures to remote sites."

The use of robotics during surgery can improve patient outcomes by providing surgeons greater precision, eliminating hand tremors, increasing range of motion and enhancing visualisation during surgery. Moreover, robotics can enhance a surgeon's ability to perform new, minimally invasive procedures that require a smaller incision, result in less tissue damage and blood loss, and a shorter recovery time for the patient.

Sentara Norfolk General Hospital is one of only a handful of sites in the nation soon to be participating in a clinical trial that will be submitted to the FDA. FDA approval following the submission would clear United States surgeons to use the Zeus System to perform laparoscopic radical prostatectomy and other urology procedures.

Sentara Norfolk General Hospital is a 569-bed tertiary care facility, known regionally and nationally for many of its specialised services and dedicated facilities including the Heart Pavilion, Sentara Cancer Institute, transplant programmes, microsurgery, minimally invasive surgery techniques, neurosciences, and reconstructive surgery.

Karl Storz Endoscopy is specialised in diagnostic and operative technology encompassing all endoscopic specialities. Karl Storz introduced the revolutionary, computer-based OR1, the integrated operating room of the future. OR1 consists of various hardware and software components that allow for central control of medical and non-medical devices in the operating room.

Computer Motion is a high-tech medical device company that develops, manufactures and markets proprietary computer-enhanced and robotic surgical systems including the Zeus Robotic Surgical System, Aesop Robotic Endoscope Positioner, Hermes Control Center, and Socrates Telecollaboration System.

More news on the operating room of the future is available in the VMW May 2002 article Northwestern Memorial Hospital implements Karl Storz custom-built surgical suites for minimally invasive procedures.

Leslie Versweyveld

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