We started our robotic surgery program at Newark Beth Israel Hospital on Dec. 13th, 2004.
Our 9 man group decided to let one person do all of the robotic surgery. Since I had the best combination of open and laparoscopic surgical skils, as well as strong cancer training from a 6 year residency at Indiana University, I had the fortune of being the person.
We did 2 cases in Dec, 2004 (both prostates). We did between 1 (Feb 05) and 7 cases per month from Jan to Sep 0f 2005 for a total of 42 operations (including 32 prostates).
We then jumped to 13 operations (10 prostates) in Oct 2005 and should do about that many in Nov and Dec of 2005.
I project I will do 200 operations (150 prostates) in 2006.
This is one of the most common questions I am asked.
Patients want to know if their surgeon is qualified to do a procedure.
I always answer this question honestly and to the best of my knowledge. With robotic cases I keep accurate data on outcomes and can answer this precisely.
I then add “How many is enough to know how to do the procedure?”
I use the da Vinci hot shears in my dominant (right) hand. I find it useful to take down adhesions from the sigmoid to the pelvis by cutting.
It provides excellent hemostasis by using cautery for the bladder neck or seminal vesicles, and is an excellent scissor to open the endopelvic fascia and to release the neurovascular bundle.
The only negative is the increased production of smoke that happens with this instrument compared to the hook.
For non-nerve sparing procedures, I still use the hook cautery.