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Robotic Surgery Program Expands

Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital-Milton (BID-Milton) has expanded its long-standing robotic surgery program. Several leading robotic surgeons, including four from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, joined the growing program and began performing robot-assisted surgery at BID-Milton this summer. 

The hospital also increased the types of operations that could be performed robotically. In addition to urologic conditions, robot-assisted surgery also can now be performed for certain gynecologic and urogynecologic conditions as well as for gynecologic cancers later this year. 

“BID-Milton is an ideal location to offer a wide variety of robotic-assisted surgery options,” explained Peter Chang, MD, MPH,  director of the Prostate Care Center at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, who is now performing robotic prostatectomies (removal of the prostate) at BID-Milton. “We have an outstanding group of experienced robotic surgeons from the medical center, Atrius Health, South Shore Urology and Greater Boston Urology, and the surgical staff here is top notch. Patients can receive the same care as in Boston but much closer to home.”

Robot-assisted surgery is minimally invasive. Instead of one “open” incision, the surgeon operates through three of four smaller incisions which are roughly the size of a button each. Through these tiny incisions, the surgeon inserts a miniaturized high-definition camera and surgical instruments with the help of the “robot’s” mechanical arms. The surgeon controls the camera and instruments from a computer console located to the side of the operating table.

In the hands of an experienced surgeon, robot-assisted surgery offers more precision and flexibility. The miniaturized camera provides a magnified, three-dimensional view inside the body and the robot’s mechanical arms greatly improves control of the surgical instruments while making it possible to operate in hard-to-reach parts of the body.

Numerous medical studies have shown that minimally invasive robotic surgery reduces blood loss as well as tissue and nerve damage. Patients have a shorter hospital stay, usually overnight, and are able to return to normal activities more quickly than with the traditional open surgery.

BID-Milton began offering robotic-assisted surgery for removal of the prostate gland several years ago. In addition to this operation, the hospital now provides robotic surgery for:

  • Hysterectomy
  • Removal of the ovaries (Complex oophorectomy)
  • Pelvic floor prolapse (Uterosacral colpoplexy)
  • Cervical cancer
  • Endometrial cancer

BID-Milton obstetrician and gynecologist Alice Shin, MD, of Milton Women’s Health, is one of the physicians now performing robot-assisted surgery at the hospital. “My colleagues, Dr. Roger Lefevre and Dr. Leslie Garrett, and I are very pleased to begin offering this type of proven, minimally invasive surgery as an option to our patients. Local women can now receive advanced surgical care in gynecology, urogynecology and gynecologic oncology without leaving the community.”

Edward Reardon, MD, chief of surgery at BID-Milton emphasized the importance of a robust robotic surgery program. “BID-Milton has one of the fastest growing surgery programs in the state. The field of robot-assisted surgery will continue to grow, and we can now offer patients easy access to several leading surgeons, many of whom also teach at Harvard Medical School, in a convenient, high-quality and lower-cost community hospital setting.”

To prepare for the expansion of the robotic surgery program, BID-Milton provided an extensive training program for its operating room staff and surgical physician assistants, including having then assist on robotic surgery cases at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

“Highly skilled and well-trained clinicians and support staff are fundamental to a successful robotic surgery program,” explained Ashley Yeats, MD, vice president of healthcare quality and clinical integration and chief medical officer at BID-Milton. “We are fortunate that we have a very strong surgical staff and group of anesthesiologists to support this program’s patient care…This is yet another great example of bringing ‘downtown care’ closer to home.”