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Scalpels in Hand, Robots Take to the ER
Date:4/27/2010

can Cancer Society.

"It is decreasing the shaking, but it didn't decrease the amount of trauma to the nerves," he said.

However, patients also sustained less blood loss, had fewer complications overall and were more likely to heal faster and spend less time in the hospital, the study found.

But how does the average person know whether robotic surgery would be the right option? And if you decide to pursue robotic surgery, how can you make sure you're in the best hands possible?

First, research the team that would perform the surgery, said Chitwood, who regularly trains surgical teams on the use of robotic instruments.

Successful use of the new technology, he said, depends on whether the surgeons already are skilled at the procedure in question.

"This will not teach you how to repair heart valves," he said. "But if you take someone who's already performed the operation and already knows what they're doing, this can make the surgery less invasive. What we preach to people [is that] if you haven't done much microvalve surgery, it's not the time to come learn from us."

The entire team that will be involved in the surgery should be trained in the use of robotics, Chitwood said. Surgeons need to know how to use the equipment, and assistants and nurses need to know how to troubleshoot the technology. "You train them on the nuances of the device, and then you do team training so the scrub nurse and the assistant and the surgeon can work in synchronicity," he said.

Someone considering robotic surgery also should ask how often a surgeon performs the surgery because repetition builds skill with the equipment, Chitwood and Brawley said. A surgeon who has performed the procedure hundreds of times simply has more experience than someone who's performed it a dozen times, they said.

Also ask about the outcomes of earlier patients, and how those outcomes compare with those of people who had tra
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