SEAFORD — Without technology, Dr. William Doran would have to measure by hand while preparing for knee or hip replacement surgeries.
But thanks to the Mako Robotic-Arm, TidalHealth Nanticoke’s Dr. Doran can create a 3D-image of the joint, which includes the bone structure and the surrounding tissues. This robot allows him to plan surgeries down to the millimeter, personalized for each patient.
“There’s no reason for me to pretend that my hands can be as good as this robot,” Dr. Doran said.
Dr. Doran said TidaHealth Nanticoke recently performed its 500th surgery using the Mako Robotic-Arm.
Robotics have played a big role at TidalHealth Nanticoke since it purchased the Mako Robotic-Arm and the da Vinci Surgical System last year. The hospital has performed more than 200 heart and lung surgeries while using the da Vinci Surgical System.
The robots have helped patients with quicker recovery times from surgery and lower costs. They cost about $2.5 million but Dr. Kurt Wehberg said performing surgeries robotically saves the hospital about $100,000 a month.
“These are expensive robots, but in the long run, they save money,” Dr. Wehberg said.
Dr. Wehberg performs minimally invasive lung procedures with the da Vinci Surgical System. The system allows for smaller incision points, which leads to smaller scars and faster healing times.
He said patients typically used to stay in the hospital for up to seven days for recovery from lung surgery. Since TidalHealth started using robotics, however, most patients can go home the same day.
Dr. Wehberg added the mortality rate for lung infections used to be 50% 50 years ago — now it’s 1%.
Patients can also save money because they won’t need as much pain medication, said Dr. Jarrod Buzalewski.
Dr. Buzalewski leads TidalHealth’s bariatric surgery program in Delaware, which has served more than 3,000 patients since its inception. He said the da Vinci Surgical System’s smaller incisions have helped patients see better outcomes after their weight loss surgeries as hernia rates have fallen dramatically and less opiates are being used.
“The problem with the bigger incisions is not surprisingly bigger pain and more pain medication use,” Dr. Buzalewski said. “What we’re seeing with the increase in minimally invasive surgery, patients are using less opiates and function is coming back faster.”