Advances in Robotic Technology Provide New Options in Pediatric Urologic Surgery
Pediatric urologic surgery has been reenergized by recent improvements to the da Vinci robot platform. A surgical team can now reach places in the body that were previously inaccessible, and procedures can be done that were impossible before robotics and even with previous versions of the da Vinci robot.
Christopher E. Bayne, M.D., an assistant professor in the department of urology, is the only pediatric surgeon at UF Health who performs robotic surgery. Children and adolescents come from all over Florida and from out of state for his level of expertise. Robotic surgery results in smaller incisions, faster recovery time and shorter hospital stays.
Using the da Vinci Xi robot, recently acquired by UF Health, Bayne can move the camera to see anywhere he needs to work inside the abdomen. “Performing urologic surgery in adults is like working in a shoebox, but with children there is even less space in the abdomen — it is more like working in a jewelry box,” Bayne says.
The Xi robot also allows Bayne to put surgical ports close together on the abdomen, a great advantage when the patient is a small child. In addition, he now rarely needs to reposition the instruments and cameras during complex surgeries that require access to more than one area of the abdomen. That reduces the duration of the procedure and the amount of anesthetic administered, which makes surgery safer.
Robotic surgery is not the solution for all children and adolescents who need urologic surgery, Bayne emphasizes. “However, for appropriately selected patients and procedures, it opens up the playbook as far as options.”
A well-trained team that works together frequently is vital to obtaining good outcomes, Bayne adds. “When the robotic surgeon is operating, they need anesthesiologists and other professionals who have experience with not just robotics, but robotics in pediatric patients. At UF Health, we have that.”
Bayne says he often likens his surgical team to a jazz band. “Every time a jazz band plays the same song, they interpret it differently, but the band members all anticipate each other’s moves,” he says. “It’s the same in pediatric robotic surgery, because my team knows what I need. I don’t have to ask for every single thing every time. They anticipate the nuances of each case.”