CORBIN — Baptist Health Corbin has announced the recent acquisition of the da Vinci Xi Surgical System. The multi-million dollar machine arrived at the hospital last Thursday in three large boxes. The robot had to be unboxed before being moved into the operating wing of the hospital for sterilization purposes.

The hospital says the machine can be used across a spectrum of minimally invasive surgical procedures.

“We are truly thrilled to be a leader in this field and look forward to continue bringing minimally invasive surgical options to our area,” said Anthony Powers, President of Baptist Health Corbin via a press release.

The da Vinci Xi Surgical System will allow surgeons better visualization with its highly magnified 3DHD vision and true depth, its camera also has the capability of magnifying up to 40 times.

“The old robot had limitations,” said Jake Isenbarger, a da Vinci Clinical sales representative with Intuitive. “You could really only do surgery in one quadrant of the body, so say like lower adnominal. This one right here allows you to do surgery in multi quadrant access without undocking the robot, because it spins, it rotates. There’s more functionality with the robot. The arms are longer, the reach is longer. Literally you have more access with the robot, and you have more autonomy as a surgeon. You can move everything where you want it to go when you want it to go there.”

Isenbarger says the display of the da Vinci Xi Surgical System was designed by an artist that worked on the "Iron Man" movies. The machine was originally for the military with the goal of allowing military surgeons to perform surgeries remotely.

“You can actually do it,” he said, adding, “you don’t see that often right now, because you want to be pretty much hands on.”

Surgeons will operate the robot from a console remotely during surgery, but Isenbarger says surgeons and the robot will still be in the operating room.

“They’re in the corner of the OR, so they have direct visualization of the patient. They can pop their head out of the console and see what’s going on, and then they can pop their head back in. There are microphones, too. So, there’s a microphone that while he’s doing his surgery he can be talking, and whoever is at the bedside can hear everything he’s saying, and vice-versa, when they speak it goes into his headphones and he can hear what they’re saying too.”

Isenbarger says surgeons will train for a couple of months before using the new machine.

“They have to go through a pretty rigorous training program,” he explained. “They have to go through online modules, they have to go through simulations, they have to score a certain percentage on the simulation exam, and then they actually end up going to case observations witness other surgeons that are currently doing robotic surgery.”

Controlling the robot is similar to playing a video game, Isenbarger says. Surgeons control the arms of the robot using controls from a console. The precise controls allow for smaller incisions to be used during surgery, which the hospital says leads to less pain, and faster recovery.

“Not only can we provide state-of-the-art technology, we can help our patients recover more rapidly with less pain,” said Powers.

“It’s really impactful,” Isenbarger said on the precision of the da Vinci Xi Surgical System. “Think about somebody, they have their livelihood, right? They have to go back to work really fast. The nice thing is, instead of like what might take six to eight weeks, they might be back working in two weeks. I mean the opioid epidemic is so big right now, being able to do an invasive surgery with less pain decreases the amount of prescription drugs that they offer.”

Isebarger says the hospital will be able to upgrade the da Vinci Xi Surgical System’s software much like we do with our smartphones. The software upgrades will extend the life of the robot.

“They do a lot of software updates with this robot that help the surgeons in their procedures; like digital measuring tapes online, or the ability to overlay an image of like a tumor on top of where they’re working so they can literally work around that area.”

According to its press release, Baptist Health Corbin will be hosting an open house in January to demonstrate the new da Vinci Xi Surgical System. More details about the open house will be posted on the hospital’s Facebook page in the future.

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