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Better Look

Oak Hill debuts minimally invasive surgical system

Equipment incorporates latest robotic developments

  • 2 min to read

SPRING HILL — Technology is advancing quicker than the average mind can keep up. And in medicine, minimally invasive surgical procedures have continued to increase accuracy while decreasing recovery and hospital stays.

Oak Hill Hospital has strived to remain at the forefront of modern medicine by staying abreast of newer, more advanced techniques and equipment. To continue that quest for excellence, they have obtained the latest advancements with a second, even more technically advance, minimally invasive surgical system, now debuting in the operating room.

Oak Hill Hospital is the only health care facility to offer the new updated minimally invasive surgical equipment in the region.

“As far as a surgeon’s stand point, this gives us more,” explained Steven Visnaw, a general surgeon with Oak Hill’s surgical team. “The robotic aspects (of the new equipment) are a little easier to use” in more complex situations.

Thoracic surgeons, for instance, can now use minimally invasive options where previously the procedures were too complex for the earlier version of the surgical system. In addition, different areas of the abdomen can now be reached using the advanced unit. And more elaborate colon procedures are now conducted in a more structured format using the newer equipment.

“This robot allows us to get to those areas a little easier by manipulating the bed and using the robot simultaneously,” said Carla Hamilton, a robotic coordinator. “It gives us that precision to do that.”

Visnaw explained that time is the biggest aspect that is affected using the updated equipment. “With the previous equipment, we had to undock the robot and tilt the patient to a different direction. And that took time, adding to the procedure,” he said.

The attending physician assistants can manipulate the angle of the patient without removing the equipment and then readjusting. That aspect alone helps minimize danger. “If the patient isn’t doing well for that moment, we can come up without having to detach everything,” added Hamilton.

The surgery takes the length of time it takes, Visnaw added. “But the secondary portions that are uncontrollable by equipment and things like that, this helps to expedite that. Shorter time under anesthesia is always better.”

Very little adjusting was needed to incorporate the new system. “They are basically the same,” said Visnaw. “There are some ergonomic aspects that change a little bit. But nothing real dramatic.”

He stressed again that surgery is surgery. “It is the same procedure whether we use laparoscopic or the robot, the surgery is the same. It is the capabilities the instrumentation allows us.”

The clarity is a huge benefit. But Visnaw also stressed that minimally invasive surgeries are significantly better for the patient. Thoracic procedures, for instance, require a six- or seven-inch incision between the ribs for lung conditions. The robotic assisted surgery needs only about four ports that are the size of a Sharpie pen.

And during the procedure, the surgeon has optimal clarity, even around other objects that might otherwise obscure his view.


The clarity the robotic surgery system provides is “a huge thing,” says surgeon Steven Visnaw.

“It’s a huge thing. You don’t see a flat structure, you see a rounded structure and you can see behind it more relevantly.”

The original minimally invasive surgical system was introduced in 2013 in Oak Hill’s operating room and will still be used for certain procedures. The newest piece of Intuitive Surgical’s da Vinci robotic operating system will only add to the efficiency of minimally invasive procedures while adding specialty surgeries the older unit wasn’t designed to handle.

Like thoracic procedures. Currently they are not focused on cardiac but more the conditions of the lung, Visnaw explained. The advances will eventually get there for cardiac as well.

Minimally invasive surgeries using the upgraded equipment allow better visualization from the ability to zoom in and see in three dimensions and high definition; better accuracy of the instrumentation to articulate and manipulate structures and get around them; and shorter overall procedures with faster recovery for the patient.

But the skilled surgeon still performs the procedure at the decision of the patient and their insurance provider. And now that Oak Hill has two minimally invasive surgical systems, more patients can be scheduled using the advancements in the area.