Monday morning when Milton Hospital’s Dr. Clifford Gluck is in the operating room removing a cancerous prostate gland his hands and eyes will have the power of science fiction reality.
When Milton Hospital’s Dr. Clifford Gluck is in the operating room removing a cancerous prostate gland Monday morning, his hands and eyes will have the power of science fiction reality.
His eyes will be 10 times stronger and his hands will be as steady and precise as a laser because Gluck will be assisted by the hospital’s new $1.6 million robotic system.
“This is going to become the gold standard,” Gluck said.
Milton Hospital is the first on the South Shore to offer robotic-assisted surgery to remove prostate glands and perform hysterectomies, or the removal of the uterus.
Gluck, chief of urology, will have the honor Monday of being the first surgeon on the South Shore to bring the pages of science fiction novels to life.
Boston Medical Center, Children’s Hospital, Brigham and Women’s and St. Vincent’s Hospital in Worcester have been using robotics for almost three years.
Gluck and other staff members spent a month in Hackensack, N.J., learning how to use the system.
Gluck, 50, said the system is easy and joked that his experience as a younger man playing video games like Space Invaders may have helped him feel confident at the controls.
The robotic system, is called the da Vinci Surgical System and is made by Intuitive Surgical in Sunnyvale, Calif. The company received federal Food and Drug Administration approval in July 2000 to market the system in the U.S.
The technology was developed in the 1980s by the U.S. Department of Defense.
Unlike other minimally invasive tools like laparoscopy and endoscopy, in which a hand-held fiber-optic tube is inserted into the patient and doctors use a video screen to guide them as they operate, the robotic system lets the doctor look through a console that magnifies the patient’s organs 10 times greater than the human eye can.
Foot pedals let the doctor zoom in or out or from side to side.
The view is in three dimensions versus the two for a laparoscope and gives a doctor the sensation of almost being inside the human body.
“It’s natural and intuitive,” Gluck said. “The visualization is unsurpassed, the depth perception is greater than regular surgery,” he said.
The same console has a pair of joysticks that manipulate robot hands on the ends of fiber-optic tubes that are in a patient who can be on a table in the same operating room or thousands of miles away.
The robot hands use tools that can cut, dissect, lift, separate, sew and cauterize bleeding. The hands can move in a circle, giving a far greater range of motion than the human wrist.
“You can squeeze into tighter spaces than ever before,” Gluck said.
Robotic systems are the next generation in minimally invasive procedures like laparoscopy and endoscopy that typically use dime-sized incisions instead of traditional open body surgery, when cuts to reach the internal organs are large enough to put a pair of hands inside.
Smaller incisions, hospital officials said, result in much quicker recovery times, less scarring and less pain for the patient.
Because the method is so new, studies are inconclusive in many areas including long-term effects on patients and ultimate financial efficiency.
However, Joseph Raduazzo, the hospital’s chief medical officer, said the robotics system is a superior way to perform surgery and believes the investment will pay off.
“It’s about offering the best patient care to the community,” Raduazzo said.
L.E. Campenella may be reached at email@example.com.