Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

What's New: Programs, Accreditations, & Initiatives

Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

What's New: Programs, Accreditations, & Initiatives

Article excerpt

The federal government has given surgeons at East Carolina University and four other hospitals the green light to use the nation's first robotic surgical device, a three-armed assistant named "da Vinci."

Last month, the da Vinci Surgical System became the first surgical robot to win Food and Drug Administration approval, allow ng the machine to help surgeons more easily perform certain operations through tiny cuts in the abdomen, known as laparoscopic surgery.

The roobot also is being tested on trickier surgeries including heart bypasses and heart valve replacements performed through three incisions each about the diameter of a pencil.

In May, East Carolina surgeons used the robott perform total heart valve surgery, one of the first such procedures in history.

And FDA experts say the robot's ability to perform precise movements in tiny spaces-without trembling like a tired surgeon might-could one day allow better microsurgery, such as for nerverelated operations.

"This system is the first step in the level opment of new robotic technology that eventually could change the practice of surgery," says FDA Commissioner Jane Henney.

The camera in da Vinci uses multiple lenses to provide a three-diamensional image. The robotic arms replace those fot-long scalpels, and have a "wrist" built in for more humanlike flexibility. The arms hold specially designed surgical instruments that mimic movement of the surgeon's hands as he or she operates the robot's joysticks from a computer next to the operating table.

"The computer controls the instruments as if your fingers are grasping the very tip," a sensation doctors usually get only in open surgery, explains Dr. Barry Gardiner of the San Ramon Regional Medical Center, who led trials of the robot.

Five hospitals are trained to use the da Vinci now: Henrico Doctors Hospital in Richmond, Va. …

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