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Forbes Regional Hospital Brings State-of-the-Art Robotic Surgery to Eastern Suburbs

Acquisition of da Vinci Surgical System to advance Monroeville hospital’s gynecologic, prostate surgery capabilities.

Just weeks after West Penn Allegheny Health System and Highmark announced through a major investment in its facilities and programs, doctors at the hospital became the first in the eastern suburbs to offer patients access to state-of-the-art robotic minimally invasive surgery.

Originally developed by NASA for operating remotely on astronauts in space and used by the Department of Defense to operate on soldiers in the battlefield, the da Vinci Surgical System by Intuitive has become a new standard of care in minimally invasive surgery that is available only at select hospitals around the country.        

“The addition of this amazing technology to the full spectrum of healthcare services that we provide to the community is another example of the significant commitment West Penn Allegheny and Highmark have made to ensuring that Forbes Regional’s future is as bright as its past and that we are well positioned to meet the advancing needs of our patients,” said Reese Jackson, Forbes Regional President and CEO, in a press release.

For patients, da Vinci offers all the benefits of minimally invasive surgery, including less pain, less blood loss, a shorter hospital stay and faster return to normal daily activities, said Mark Rubino, a gynecologic surgeon at Forbes Regional who has utilized the technology at The Western Pennsylvania Hospital in Bloomfield. 

“The da Vinci robotic system greatly enhances the physician’s laparoscopic skills and ultimately expands the option of minimally invasive surgery to more people,” said Rubino, who also serves as Forbes Regional’s Chief Medical Officer.  “Now, many of our patients from the eastern suburbs who would have had to travel into the city for access to this cutting edge technology can now enjoy all of its advantages much closer to home.”

At Forbes Regional, the da Vinci will initially be used for prostatectomy surgery in the treatment of men with prostate cancer, and for gynecological procedures such as hysterectomies. Plans also are in place to expand its use to additional clinical areas such as thoracic, cardiovascular and colorectal surgery.

The da Vinci system allows surgeons to see targeted anatomy in high magnification, brilliant color and a natural depth of field.  The system’s robotic instruments exceed the natural range of motion of the human hand and afford a fail-safe design that minimizes the possibility of human error.

Sitting at a console several feet away from the operating room table, surgeons maneuver da Vinci’s four robotic arms which are stationed at the patient’s side and view the surgical field through a high resolution endoscopic camera mounted on one of them.

Unlike conventional laparoscopic surgery, where surgeons must look up and away from hand held instruments to a nearby monitor to see the targeted anatomy, da Vinci keeps the surgeon’s eyes and hands positioned in line with the instruments at all times.

By providing surgeons with superior visualization, dexterity and precision, the technology makes it possible to perform minimally invasive procedures involving even the most complex tissue dissection or reconstruction, Rubino said.

“This is an extraordinary technology that substantially improves hand-eye coordination and reduces the physical toll of laparoscopic surgery on the surgeon," he said. "The high magnification of the robot allows us to better visualize and dissect blood vessels and by translating the surgeon’s hand motions into micro-movements that reduce even the most minute of tremors, we are able to perform minimally invasive procedures with even greater precision and confidence.”

West Penn Allegheny Health System is now home to one of the country’s leading minimally invasive robotic surgery programs, with da Vinci capabilities available at three of its five hospitals, including flagship Allegheny General Hospital (AGH). 

In July 2011, transplant surgeons at AGH became among the first in the country to perform laparoscopic kidney removal from a live organ donor using da Vinci.  In total, more than a dozen gynecologic and urologic surgeons at the health system have significant experience using the technology. 

To make an appointment with a da Vinci surgeon at Forbes Regional Hospital, West Penn or AGH, call 412-362-8677.

Intuitive Surgical Inc. manufactures the da Vinci Surgical System. More information about the technology is available at www.intuitivesurgical.com

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