YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio - When urologist Dr. Dan Ricchuiti performed the first robot-assisted surgery at St. Elizabeth Health Center, little did he know he would end up performing the hospital's 1,000th robot-assisted surgery.
"From the first one to the 1,000th obviously we've all gotten much more experienced and that experience in this kind of surgery is very important," Dr. Ricchuti said.
When the hospital launched the robot surgery center, physicians primarily used the da Vinci surgical system for hysterectomies and to remove prostates.
Since then, doctors have been able to use the surgical system to perform a number of advanced surgeries including the partial removal of a kidney, which is what David Slifka, patient number 1,000, had done about a month ago to remove a cancerous cyst.
"The cyst was at the bottom of my kidney which was good and so they just removed 10% of my kidney," Slifka said.
"Without the robot, this particular procedure would have most likely had to have been done through a large incision about a foot long and a rib would have had to have been removed and the recovery would have been night and day," Dr. Ricchuiti said.
In addition to quicker recovery times, robot-assisted surgery provides patients a lower risk of infection, less pain and less scarring.