JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL)- Walking into a room with Lincoln might feel like the set of a sci-fi movie, but the $1.9 million robot is the newest addition to the James H. Quillen Veterans Affairs Medical Center.
Dr. Allison Christie Director of Robotic Surgery of the DaVinci Xi Surgical Robot in a demonstration Friday afternoon for curious patients and staff. The robot’s four arms entered small incisions in a demonstration dummy as Dr. Christie worked precise stitches into a model bladder.
The robot is a first for the medical center – Dr. Christie said it will replace laparoscopic surgery with a four-armed robot controlled remotely by the surgeon.
Instead of maneuvering long, straight laparoscopic instruments in surgery, Dr. Christie explained that the robot allows for more precise movement that means smaller incisions and other benefits for the patient.
“There could be decreased recovery time for the patients, there could be decreased blood loss, less use of pain medication,” she said.
The robot will also keep more patients on-site – Dr. Christie said that in the past, patients had to take as much as a three-hour drive away to get robotic surgery.
The robot means that patients can receive surgery for prostate cancer and hysterectomies in addition to general surgery cases that are usually more difficult to do with traditional laparoscopic instruments.
“We have been working on that for over a year now, starting up the program and training our staff and making sure that we have every last little thing we would need to make this go perfectly,” Dr. Christie said.
At the end of the presentation, she used the robot to pick its name out of a fishbowl of suggestions from staff, and Lincoln emerged as the winner.
Lincoln’s first surgery will be next week, and Dr. Christie said she is looking forward to the future of surgery at Mountain Home.
“We will be able to recruit new physicians who are trained in this and who look for the availability of a robot where they want to practice,” she said, adding, “We will be able to keep patients here where they often have better continuity of care because all of their primary care doctors and specialists are within the same system.”
The James H. Quillen Medical Center recently acquired a ‘DaVinci Xi Surgical Robot’ that will provide robotic surgeries to some veteran patients.
News Channel 11’s Jessica Fuller attended an event where officials demonstrated how the robot works.
You can see her full report Friday afternoon on WJHL.com.