Students from Lincoln Elementary School put their robotic surgery skills to the test Tuesday when they were invited to “test drive” South Florida Baptist Hospital’s new da Vinci Xi Surgical System.
The select group of students were part of the robotics club at Lincoln and were able to see first hand how robotics are improving everyday functions and saving lives. General Surgeon C. R. Hall, M.D., director of robotics and bariatrics, provided a demonstration of the robot’s capabilities and spent an hour answering their questions and teaching them about the industry.
“It adds a whole other level of complexity to robotic surgeries that we do here,” Hall said. “The kids are so excited to see this technology.”
The hospital began its robotics surgery program in 2012 when Hall came on staff to kickstart the program. Over the years the technology has evolved and the new system is the latest model to come through the doors. The da Vinci Xi replaces the hospital’s da Vinci S HD Surgical System.
The new robot has more functionality and can access more quadrants of the body, allowing surgeries to be more efficient. Bringing it in, docking it and hooking it up to the patients is much more streamlined. Hall said they were not only looking to do many more types of operations, but the robot also allows them to take less time on each surgery, which is an important component for the hospital.
As the children lined up to try their hand at using the robot to move small rubber bands from one peg to another, they cheered each other on and counted who had the most skill on the device. Hall’s son was part of the class and he joked they should have one at home.
“This was amazing,” Christine Perez, teacher at Lincoln and one of the advisors of the robotics club, said. “Their reaction was really excited when we were invited to come and I don’t think they realized they would actually get to touch and do and get scrubs and all of that.”
The robot opens up the door to fixing complex problems in a less traumatic and faster method. Hall performed the first case with the new robot on May 9, which was the repair of a hiatal hernia and placement of a cutting-edge LINX anti-reflux device. The difference between the old robot and the new one are significant and he said he is excited to see all the ways it will benefit both the surgeons and the patients over the next few years.
When Hall first came to South Florida Baptist Hospital there was one robot and no other robotic surgeons. He spearheaded the program and over the years they have grown to eight robotic surgeons on staff in departments ranging from gynecology to neurologists. They operate on a weekly basis with the advanced technology to provide the best care for their patients.
“I always think about in Star Trek where they have that thing they scan you with and they can fix you without even going inside of you,” Hall said. “Maybe someday we will have that, but for now the goal is less incisions, smaller incisions and less trauma to get the operation done. This is the best tool to do that.”