Le Bonheur Children's Medical Center performs groundbreaking paediatric surgeries using robotics

Memphis 01 May 2003At Le Bonheur Children's Medical Center, Thom E. Lobe, MD, successfully completed a surgery on a 41-day-old baby, weighing just over six pounds (2,8kg). During the operation, Dr. Lobe used Computer Motion's robotic system called ZEUS to perform delicate surgical repairs on the infant's birth defects. Dr. Lobe, Le Bonheur paediatric surgeon, and Chairman of the University of Tennessee Health Science Center College of Medicine Section of Paediatric Surgery, is among the first surgeons in the United States to do paediatric laparoscopy in the world. The patient is the smallest child ever to be operated on using the ZEUS Surgical System.

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Dr. Lobe's first clinical cases using ZEUS were on February 24. Since then he has already performed 12 paediatric cases including two groundbreaking surgeries using the robotic system, including the first ever pull-through for Hirschsprung's disease using robotics in the United States. Other cases include gallbladder and spleen surgeries and treatment for a complex appendicitis case.

"Our patients are doing well", stated Dr. Lobe. "Using the laparoscopic approach spares these infants from the most traumatic aspect of surgery, the necessity of a major incision." Laparoscopic surgery, or minimally invasive surgery, is an approach that allows surgeons to perform major operations through tiny incisions instead of the large incision required for conventional open surgery. Reducing surgical trauma may result in less pain, faster recovery and shorter hospital stay for patients.

"Using ZEUS may further decrease physical trauma to the patient by giving surgeons more precise control of instruments critical to working on the very small anatomy of paediatric patients", explained Dr. Lobe.

On March 3, the Le Bonheur team completed a procedure, which included both the repair of a giant hiatal hernia and the creation of a Nissen fundoplication. Since performing these procedures, the baby now can eat without refluxing gastric acid into the lungs. Dr. Lobe sat at the ZEUS console positioned near the operating table and controlled the three arms of the ZEUS system. The doctor performed the surgery while viewing a magnified video image from inside the infant's body on his console screen.

"Le Bonheur is recognised for over 50 years of leadership in paediatric medicine", stated Le Bonheur Children's Medical Center President Peggy Troy, RN, MSN. "Dr. Lobe's pioneering clinical work brings the most advanced surgical treatment available to our own patients, and his commitment to medical education contributes to the advancement of paediatric medical care worldwide."

The Computer Motion ZEUS Surgical System received FDA clearance for minimally invasive surgery in September 2002. A ZEUS System was used in the September 2001 transatlantic telesurgery from New York to France and the March 2003 hospital-to-hospital telerobotics assisted surgery in Ontario, Canada.

Le Bonheur Children's Medical Center was founded in 1952 and is the paediatric teaching facility of the University of Tennessee Health Science Center. It hosts a medical staff of 485 with 42 paediatric sub-specialities and 225 beds. More than 1 million children live in Le Bonheur's 95 county referral area, which includes Tennessee, Mississippi, Arkansas, Missouri, Kentucky, and Alabama. More than 100.000 children are treated on an inpatient or outpatient basis annually.

Le Bonheur has been on the forefront of paediatric medical care in the Mid-South, Southeast and the United States with firsts in cardiac care, kidney dialysis and cystic fibrosis treatment programmes. Integrally associated with Le Bonheur is St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

Computer Motion is a high-tech medical device company that develops, manufactures and markets proprietary computer-enhanced and robotic surgical systems including ZEUS Surgical System, AESOP Robotic Endoscope Positioner, HERMES Control Center, and the SOCRATES Telecollaboration System. More news on ZEUS is available in the VMW March 2003 article Washington Hospital performs first robotic laparoscopic colectomy using ZEUS Surgical System and in the VMW April 2003 article Bell Canada delivers surgical grade network to power telerobotics assisted surgery.


Leslie Versweyveld

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