M17 — May 2012 — Robotic Bladder Surgery
Intro: Sounds like a science fiction movie, doesn't it? Doctors using robots to perform surgery. The fact is robots can be seen in an increasing number of operating rooms at Mayo Clinic. That's because the technology allows doctors to do complicated surgeries less invasively, which means many patients can get back to their lives faster with fewer complications.
"Books have been a big part of my life."
For decades, Bob Sommer has lived and worked surrounded by books.
"Books are wonderful. Books change lives."
And as Bob found out, so does cancer.
"I actually had cancer. Cancerous tumors in my bladder."
Bob's doctors recommended removal of his entire bladder. But instead of an open surgery with a large incision, Bob chose to have his bladder removed and a new one, called a neobladder, constructed via a robot.
"It fascinated me, the level of technology. It was like being in future land or something."
"It's like playing a video game."
A very complicated one. Dr. Erik Castle and his team access the bladder through tiny incisions. After properly placing the robotic tools, he sits at a console and controls them.
"When we move our hands, the robot will move its arms. If we stop moving, the robot will stop moving."
During the operation, Dr. Castle removes the entire bladder. Next he uses part of the intestine to create the neobladder, which then is hooked up to the urethra. He says the robotic approach has several advantages over standard surgery. The biggest is that it is much less invasive.
"The advantage of the robot is that our blood loss is significantly less, and the hospital stay is shorter."
And, he says, there are fewer complications.
"Recovery was very fast. I was out of the hospital in four days."
Not only is Bob thankful that his cancer is gone and he's back in his bookshop, but he's also amazed at how normal he feels.
"All the plumbing works pretty much as it did before. Talk about magic."
Bob says almost everything he knows about life he's learned from works of fiction. And what he's learned about his own story is that now he can live on, cancer free.
For Mayo Clinic, I'm Vivien Williams.
In addition to removing the bladder and constructing a new one, Dr. Castle says he is also able to remove lymph nodes to make sure the cancer hasn't spread.
Doctors are using robotic technology for other types of operations including prostate and gynecological surgeries.
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