North Georgia Medical Center (NGMC) Makes State History with Robotic Surgery

Published: Wednesday, January 7, 2009

GAINESVILLE – The first robotics gastric bypass case in Georgia was performed at Northeast Georgia Medical Center (NGMC) Tuesday, December 30, 2008, using the newly installed da Vinci Surgical System. This was also the first surgical robotics procedure completed at NGMC.

Robotics is a cutting-edge method of performing surgery using only a few small incisions, or keyholes similar to that used in laparoscopic cases, as ports for instruments that allow access to the heart, lungs and abdomen, while at the same time fine-tuning the technical skills of the surgeon. This surgery is performed in a three dimensional image compared to the two dimensions of laparoscopic surgery. Robotic instrumentation works by mimicking the motions and movements of the surgeons’ hands and fingers. This provides an added element of dexterity for the surgeon. Furthermore, the da Vinci’s wrist action capabilities allow the surgeon to get around corners and in tight spaces for improved precision.

"Robotics surgery is a particularly good option for bariatric patients who choose the gastric bypass procedure," says Alex Nguyen, MD, a surgeon with Northeast Georgia Surgical Associates in Gainesville. "When performing a gastric bypass procedure, the most complicated and important part of the surgery is creating the communication between the stomach and small bowel after creating the gastric pouch. The most common approaches in connecting them are to either staple or to hand sew them together, but the best results to date and the least complications have been demonstrated with the sewing approach. The robot makes hand sewing much easier by increasing the dexterity, precision and vision of the surgeon in the tight space. More and more studies are now showing that not only in bariatrics but also in other surgical specialties complication rates are less in the robotic assisted approach when compared to the standard laparoscopic approaches."

The use of the da Vinci Surgical System for a patient’s procedure rather than an open incision procedure can mean a shorter length of stay for the patient, a quicker return to normal activities, significantly less pain, less complications, less blood loss and less scaring.

"My first priority was a successful patient outcome," says Dr. Nguyen. "Our case went remarkably well. The patient had an extremely successful surgery with no complications. Being the first case in Georgia, I also wanted the procedure to be technically smooth, which it was. The staff at NGMC deserves a lot of the credit for how smoothly everything went. The group really came together, and I am proud to be a member of the team that completed this successful case and brought this surgical technique for bariatrics to the state of Georgia."

The purchase of the da Vinci Surgical System was made possible though an anonymous gift of $1 million to The Medical Center Foundation as a part of their Healthy Journey II campaign. The da Vinci will also provide innovative robotic surgery options for cardiac, urologic, gynecologic and general surgery procedures in the coming months.