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New Robot Gives Surgeons 3D View, Increased Precision

WORCESTER (CBS) - It's the latest generation of robotic surgery, but don't worry there's a doctor controlling its every move. And that means increased precision and shorter recovery times.

WBZ got a surgeon's eye view of how it works. "What's important about the robot for me is that this is the way technology is going to go for the next generation," said Dr. John Kelly, the chief of general surgery at UMass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester.

We were able to observe him performing gastric sleeve surgery for weight loss and he used four robotic arms to do it. "I can do different moves, suturing, angles that I can reach that I can't reach with standard laparoscopic surgery with a lot more precision and ability," he added.

Robotic surgery
da Vinci XI at UMass Memorial Medical Center (WBZ-TV)

The da Vinci XI gives surgeons a 3D view with remarkable detail. "This is a new platform for robotic surgical technology that allows us to bring minimally invasive surgery to more patients," said UMass Memorial's Dr. Paul Sturrock.

The surgeon sits at a console using hand and feet controls to operate the robot, making the surgery more comfortable for the doctor, an important factor if the surgeon has multiple operations in a single day. But ultimately, it's all about the patient. "The benefit to the patient would be that we're able to bring the possibility of having minimally invasive procedures and smaller incisions, and hopefully a faster recovery time to a large percentage of the population," said Dr. Sturrock.

Robotic surgery
Surgeon uses da Vinci XI at UMass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester (WBZ-TV)

It's the increased agility that puts this technology ahead of its predecessors. It enhances the surgeon's ability while decreasing the length of some surgeries and lessening patients pain after surgery.

As a teaching hospital, UMass Memorial Medical Center will use it with an eye to the future. "I'm enjoying the opportunity to get good at this so I can teach the next generation of robotic surgery," said Dr. Kelly.

The da Vinci costs between one and two-million dollars, so it's a big investment they hope will pay big patient dividends.

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