Meet Fresno's new surgeon - the da Vinci robot

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A new "surgeon" at a Fresno hospital has four arms and telescopic vision, making a big impact on how procedures are performed.

It's the latest version of the revolutionary "da Vinci robot".

The machine combines state-of- the-art technology with a human doctor's skill to benefit patients across the Valley.

Dr. Russell Martin, who uses the robot at Saint Agnes Medical Center in northeast Fresno, says some of his patients naturally have questions when they learn the many-tentacled machine will be used in their procedure.

"Is the robot doing the surgery or are you doing the surgery? And I always tell patients, I'm in complete control just like any other surgery."

And control is key with this latest version. In this video provided by the makers of daVinci, the machine is designed to enhance the surgeon's senses even beyond normal human capabilities.

"It allows us to do much more advanced surgery in a minimally invasive fashion."

Incisions of only millimeters are needed to insert the instruments which are designed to decrease surgical trauma and recovery pain, for the patient.

Dr. Martin says there are limitations to traditional laproscoptic instruments with movement limited to only opening and closing.

But the latest daVinci has full wrist-rotation, for greater flexibility for the surgeon, inside the patient's body.

"Urology, colorectal, gynocology, even thoracic surgery is coming on board and being able to provide that service, no matter where we're at in the Valley, to our residents, our family, our friends, I think is key."

Since patients spend less time in the hospital and go home with less pain compared to traditional, open surgery, robot-assisted surgery has another positive side effect; less need for potent painkillers reducing the risk of addictive opioids.

"I literally am sending patients home from colon cancer cases with zero narcotics. I call patients 2-3 days after discharge. I ask them how they're doing. I've heard I've taken Tylenol four times," he said.

The daVinci is helping Saint Agnes doctors deliver the next level of robotic-assisted procedures in the Valley so patients don't have to travel to find the most advanced care.

It can be customized to the doctor at the controls, even slowed down as a safety measure, to help beginning surgeons.

Patients are not charged more for a daVinci procedure. The surgery would fall under the same insurance coverage as other methods.
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