With the aid of a robotic surgical system, like the da Vinci, surgery is performed entirely by a doctor from start to finish. Instead of using their hands directly on a patient’s body, they use micro-sized surgical instruments controlled by ahighly intuitive console in the operating room, using the latest in surgical and robotics technologies.

Robotic Surgery at Health First offers an elevated level of surgical care for minor to complex medical procedures.

Health First Medical Group’s Andrew Zabinski, MD, is Board-certified in urology and fellowship trained in genitourinary oncology. Dr. Zabinski’s focus includes such specialized procedures as partial nephrectomy, prostatectomy and urology reconstructive procedures. He also performs other urologic kidney and prostate procedures.

“I control three instruments from the console. I use my thumbs and my index fingers to manipulate the instruments,” Dr. Zabinksi said of the da Vinci robot.

“I have a clutch so I can switch to another instrument and I also operate the camera from the console using the same controls.”

The camera magnifies the operative field eight times and it is in 3D. As a result, da Vinci enables surgeons to operate with enhanced vision, precision, dexterity and control.

It has been found to be very effective in kidney procedures. “It is much more accurate. I see things, such as small vessels and other aspects of the case, which I never knew existed or paid attention to during a traditional open operation. The instruments are also very sensitive to how I control them,” he said. 

Most kidney tumors are found incidentally because of other symptoms like gallbladder pain or blood in urine. When kidney cancer is suspected, doctors arrange a kidney imaging study. The initial imaging study is usually an ultrasound or CT scan. Though most tumors are diagnosed as cancer, with early diagnosis and treatment, kidney cancer can be cured. 

“The smaller tumors (less than 3 cm) we find have about a 20-25 percent chance of being a benign tumor,”  he said. “The larger the tumor the more likely it is a malignancy.” 

A partial nephrectomy, removing only a portion of the kidney, spares the healthy, functioning kidney tissue and is the gold standard treatment option for small to medium-sized kidney tumors or masses, according to the American Urological Association.

“The cancer outcomes are the same whether you remove the whole kidney or just the diseased tissue (partial nephrectomy) and people live longer healthier lives with two kidneys.” 

As an added layer of safety, cryoablation which uses extreme cold to destroy tissue is often also performed. 

“Cryoablation of the tumor base is an added step we use in order to freeze a couple extra layers of cells to be sure we do not leave any cancer in the kidney,”
Dr. Zabinski explained. 

A normal recovery will usually require one to two nights in the hospital. Many patients require little if any pain medication. Most patients return to normal daily activities or to work two to three weeks following this procedure. They are not supposed to do any heavy physical activity for at least a month. The patients tend to feel better sooner and return to a normal life due to the benefits the da Vinci. 

For more information, visit HFrobotics.org.

Benefits of the da Vinci Robotic Surgical System

  • Patients tend to have less blood loss
  • The incisions are less than a centimeter (or the size of a pea) so there is much less pain involved
  • The procedures are generally much faster compared to an open procedure or a traditional laparoscopic procedure
  • Patients tend to recover quicker than traditional methods