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What is Robotic Surgery?

When hearing about robotic surgery, it can be easy to get a mental image of a futuristic, artificially intelligent robot that can perform intricate surgeries autonomously. While this is a fascinating scenario, the reality is that these robots cannot function autonomously. The surgeons themselves are the ones performing the surgery while they utilize these surgical robots as a tool. However, it is true that they help surgeons perform incredibly intricate surgeries with high-level precision.

One of these surgeons is Norman Regional general surgeon, William Hinojosa, DO, who has been using the DaVinci XI robot to take his surgical procedures to the next level. Dr. Hinojosa began his career wanting to become an emergency medicine doctor, but once he was in medical school, he was exposed to surgery where he discovered that he had a passion for it. Now he is in Norman, Oklahoma making robotic surgery more accessible to the community he serves.

What is Robotic Surgery?

Robotic surgery is essentially an advanced form of minimally invasive surgery or laparoscopy, which itself was a big advancement over open surgeries. It utilizes a camera and smaller incisions, which lead to decreased pain and recovery time for patients. Robotic surgery takes this a step further, allowing surgeons to use a computer-controlled robot equipped with a camera and surgical tools. Laparoscopy was a big step in the right direction, but it has its limitations and robotic surgery has helped push the limits further.

“When I was doing ventral hernia surgeries laparoscopically, it was very difficult to suture the hole closed with laparoscopic instruments, but with the robot, it allows for more dexterity and makes those procedures significantly easier,” Dr. Hinojosa said. “Think of it as having your wrist inside of the incision, instead of the laparoscopic instruments that are more like sticks. They can rotate or move around, but there is no flexion like with the robotic instruments.”

What operations are performed utilizing the DaVinci XI Robot?

The DaVinci XI robot has a near unlimited range of applications for surgical procedures. Dr. Hinojosa himself has performed many different operations using the robot.

“I would like to do everything possible that I can using the robot. The big thing I wanted to begin using the robot for was hernia surgeries,” Dr. Hinojosa said. “I do lots of hernia surgeries, really anything inside of the abdomen that I would normally do laparoscopically; I use the robot for now. Other specialties use it for other things like prostate surgery. My wife, Jessica Hinojosa, DO, uses it for hysterectomies; thoracic surgeons are using the robot for chest surgeries as well. Whether it be heart or lung, this robot really is the next step in surgery and it’s really starting to take off in the United States.”

What are the benefits for the patient?

Just like you would think, one of the most important value propositions of the DaVinci XI robot is the ability for it to not only benefit the surgeon, but also the patients as well. Patients who are undergoing a procedure utilizing the DaVinci XI robot can expect to have significantly improved outcomes compared to a laparoscopic procedure and certainly an open procedure.

“This is something that makes the surgery safer for patients with less pain, less scarring, less bleeding and a reduced risk of infection,” Dr. Hinojosa said. “I was able to complete a couple hernia surgeries recently where I was concerned I may need to do an open surgery, but I was able to complete those operations with the robot. For those two particular patients, if we had done an open surgery, it normally would have been a big, midline incision from the sternum to the pelvis, but with the robot, I was able to fix the hernias with three dime-sized incisions each.”

Those patients had both came back to Dr. Hinojosa for a follow-up visit two weeks after their procedures. Aside from some mild soreness, they had no complications post-surgery. With the help of the DaVinci XI robot, Dr. Hinojosa was able to turn what would normally be a three to four day stay in the hospital into an outpatient surgery.

If you would like to learn more about Dr. Hinojosa, the rest of the surgeons and other surgery resources at Norman Regional, we encourage you to visit Oklahoma Surgical Associates or call 405-329-4102.