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Northwestern Memorial Launches Illinois' First Dedicated Surgical Robotics Program for Gynecologic Malignancies

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August 29, 2007

Chicago -

Recruits Robotics Surgeon and Gynecologic Oncologist M. Patrick Lowe to lead efforts for the treatment and surgical management of uterine and cervical cancers

Very few programs aimed at surgically managing and treating women’s cancers center on a robot as the lead combatant.  But Northwestern Memorial Hospital believes surgical robotics can improve on operative outcomes and dramatically reduce recovery time for certain forms of gynecologic malignancies, such as uterine and cervical cancers.  Leading the charge is M. Patrick Lowe, MD, a Northwestern Memorial gynecologic oncologist, and Director of the Robotics and Minimally Invasive Surgical Program for the Division of Gynecologic Oncology at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine. 

“Generally speaking, after the initial shock of diagnosis, women confronted with a gynecologic malignancy find incredible resolve to take steps to rid their body of the cancer,” says Lowe. “Even though the willingness to fight is there, women still want the shortest route leading back to a degree of normalcy post treatment.  Surgical robotics offers these cancer patients the path of least resistance. We are committed to making this state of the art treatment available to women with cancer because we believe that the outcomes are clearly superior.”

Minimally invasive techniques have been used to treat early-stage uterine, cervical and some ovarian cancers for more than a decade.  However, widespread utilization of conventional laparoscopy in the specialty of gynecologic oncology has not gained widespread acceptance due to numerous factors such as lack of training, a steep learning curve, long-term commitment, and technology. However, use of the robotic surgical system to treat these cancers in a minimally invasive fashion has rapidly expanded in the past two years since receiving FDA approval for use in gynecology. 

This comes as encouraging news to thousands of women who are diagnosed with some form of these cancers annually because the road to recovery most often leads to surgery. Historically, cancers of the uterus and cervix called for invasive surgical approaches, which meant a lengthy abdominal incision and use of large retractors to gain access to the abdomen and pelvis to remove the cancer of interest. This approach requires hospital stays of 3-5 days and recovery times of six-to-eight weeks with heavy restrictions on everyday activities such as work and child care.

When compared to traditional surgery, studies have demonstrated that minimally invasive procedures for the treatment of uterine and cervical cancers offers patients similar survival with the added benefits of a shorter hospital stay (1 day), quicker recovery (1 week), decreased blood loss during surgery, decreased pain and improved quality of life. In addition, patients experience less scarring and reduced incidence of infection.

“Surgical robotics provides improved visualization, dexterity, and precision over current conventional laparoscopy and expands the range of surgical options for many of our patients,” says Lowe. “We are not advocating for an end to traditional procedures. Traditional approaches for the surgical treatment of gynecologic malignancies will always remain very viable options for combating this killer of women. We want women to be educated about all available treatments including minimally invasive surgery. Fighting the disease is our main concern and fortunately we now have a dedicated Robotics and Minimally Invasive Surgical Program in the Division of Gynecologic Oncology at Northwestern Memorial where women now have a range of surgical options to help them fight a good fight against gynecologic cancers.”

For more information please visit Northwestern Memorial at http://www.nmh.org

About Northwestern Memorial Hospital
Northwestern Memorial Hospital is one of the country’s premier academic medical centers and is the primary teaching hospital of the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.  Northwestern Memorial and its Prentice Women’s Hospital and Stone Institute of Psychiatry have 744 beds along with 1,424 affiliated physicians and 6,464 employees.  Northwestern Memorial is recognized for providing state-of-the-art patient care and exemplary clinical and surgical advancements in the areas of cardiothoracic and vascular care, gastroenterology, neurology and neurosurgery, oncology, organ and bone marrow transplantation, and women’s health.

Northwestern Memorial received the prestigious 2005 National Quality Health Care Award and is listed in eight specialties in U.S. News & World Report’s 2007 rankings for “America’s Best Hospitals.” For seven years running, Northwestern Memorial has been rated among the nation’s “100 Best Companies for Working Mothers” by Working Mother magazine and has been chosen by Chicagoans for more than a decade as their “most preferred hospital” according to the National Research Corporation’s annual survey.  Northwestern Memorial carries the Magnet status designation in nursing, the highest recognition possible for patient care and nursing excellence.

About the da Vinci Surgical System
The da Vinci Surgical System consists of an ergonomically designed surgeon’s console, a patient-side cart with four interactive robotic arms, the high-performance InSite® Vision System and proprietary EndoWrist® Instruments. Powered by state-of-the-art robotic technology, the surgeon’s hand movements are scaled, filtered and seamlessly translated into precise movements of the EndoWrist Instruments. The net result: an intuitive interface with breakthrough surgical capabilities.
 
The da Vinci Surgical System is the only commercially available technology that can provide the surgeon with the intuitive control, range of motion, fine tissue manipulation capability and 3-D visualization characteristic of open surgery, while simultaneously allowing the surgeon to work through tiny incisions typical of minimally invasive surgery.

Last UpdateJune 8, 2011
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