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Feb 10, 2010 11:56 PM by Carina Corral

Local woman talks about surgery using a robotic surgeon

Seeing Karon Cushing sitting up in her hospital bed and joking with visitors, it is hard to imagine just hours before she went under the knife, undergoing a hysterectomy.

" I already got up, walked around. Did all those things. I could go home right now, but I don't have a ride," joked Cushing, the first patient in San Luis Obispo County to have a robot-assisted surgery.

da Vinci is the newest member of Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center's surgical team. It is a $2 million surgical tool.

" The robot is not autonomous. It translates the hand commands of the surgeon into the movements of the instruments," said Dr. Kurt Haupt, an OB-GYN who assisted with the surgery.

Through the use of hand and foot controls, and with the help of a 3-D image, surgeons direct da Vinci's movements inside the patient.

Doctors said one of the biggest benefits to da Vinci is that it requires a smaller incision, typically about 1 cm, resulting in a faster recovery time for patients.

Traditionally, surgeries require a 12-14 cm incision.
Although the cuts are smaller, doctors are able to operate like it is an open surgery, with full range of motion.

" It translates into a much more natural, precise surgical approach," said Dr. Haupt.

For patients, it translates into a shorter hospital stay, as well.

Instead of staying here 2-3 days, Cushing went home the same day.

" I'm ready to go home and sleep in my own bed and not have to spend the night. And I don't feel uncomfortable at all."

The da Vinci is used nationally in a number of surgeries ranging from kidney disorders to obesity.

Click here to link to the da Vinci's website to learn more about this surgical tool.

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