First there was R2-D2, the diminutive robot of “Star Wars” fame.
Now 30 years later, there is daVinci Si Vespa platform, a seven-foot robot with tools on a cart, managed at a console by a surgeon performing one-site hysterectomies and gallbladder operations.
“Medicine lagged far behind the movie industry in realizing that robots could be useful,” laughed Las Palmas surgeon Richard Farnam, M.D., one of the first gynecologists in the country to work with a daVinci robot at the Cleveland Clinic in 2002.
“The great thing about robotics,” he said, “is that it facilitates our ability to do both basic and advanced surgery.”
Farnam’s mentor, Dr. Ahluwalia at St. Elizabeth Hospital in New York, performed the first laparoscopic hysterectomy in 1989.
“Prior to this, 75 percent were done with a cut to the abdomen, 25 percent vaginally,” Farnam said.
In 2005 the Food and Drug Administration approved the daVinci robot for gynecologic surgery. Farnam returned to his hometown of El Paso in 2006, and in 2007 the first surgical robot arrived.
“In 2011 the Texas Institute for Robotics Surgery at Las Palmas Medical Center was created,” Farnam said. “The goal was to ensure efficient, high-quality care with excellent surgical outcomes.”