Jennifer Kagarise, an open heart recovery nurse, has seen countless operations. But when faced with a diagnosis of cervical cancer this past February, the mother of two young daughters took pause. “I was shocked and had to regroup,” she says. “It was frightening.”
Kagarise required a radical hysterectomy, a reality that caused her great concern. Her surgeon, Ohio State’s Jeffrey Fowler, MD, director of the Division of Gynecologic Oncology, suggested minimally invasive robotic surgery. Kagarise had her operation on May 1, and was home with her family in Columbus after only a few days and back to work by the end of the month.
Kagarise is one of thousands of patients who have come to understand why Ohio State has been a leader in robotic surgery since its advent. In 1999, the year the da Vinci® robotic surgical system was introduced, Ohio State was the first hospital in the country to use the system. Since then, the Medical Center has pushed robotic surgery forward, exploring new surgical techniques and building a specialized staff that includes more than 25 surgeons who perform roughly 1,000 heart, urologic, gynecologic and other robotic surgeries annually. The recent opening of the Center for Advanced Robotic Surgery, co-directed by Dr. Fowler and Ronney Abaza, MD, director of Robotic Urologic Surgery, showcases the experience behind this world-class program.
“When people hear about robotic surgery, they think of robots on the conveyor belt at Ford,” says Dr. Abaza. “It’s the exact opposite. In medicine, the robot is an instrument the surgeons control.”
The da Vinci system translates a surgeon’s movements, made on a control console equipped with a 3-D vision system, to four robotic arms. Each arm is equipped with a range of tools, pivoting and positioning itself in tight corners of the human body where a surgeon’s hands can’t reach. It combines the small incisions of minimally invasive surgery with the fluid movements of a surgeon’s wrist.
Advanced magnification allows for greater accuracy and less blood loss—surgeons can see blood vessels invisible to the naked eye. According to Lynda Jayjohn, RN, who manages the robotic surgery operating rooms, it also dramatically decreases recovery time.
“A 57-year-old woman underwent a hysterectomy on Thursday, went home Friday and called us Saturday to tell us she’d tripped and fallen on the playground playing with her granddaughter,” says Jayjohn. “She wanted to know if she had anything to worry about. How many other ladies would be out on a playground two days after a hysterectomy?”
Surgical outcomes like those wouldn’t be possible without a well-trained team of staff working together. “It really takes a team approach,” says Dr. Fowler. “There’s a great advantage in having a team with expertise in a variety of disciplines and the most experience in the state.”
Lynda Jayjohn, RN, leads a robotic surgery training session.
SPOTLIGHT ON TEAMWORK
While surgeons need to adapt to robotic surgery, it’s just as important for nurses to be experienced and knowledgeable. According to Lynda Jayjohn, RN, who manages the robotic surgery operating rooms, her staff is constantly honing its skills. During robotic surgeries, a nurse, robotic lead tech, anesthesiologist and resident are in the OR with the surgeon. Ohio State’s program is so advanced that it hosts training programs for outside nurses and physicians. It’s an educational commitment, both inside and outside Ohio State, that Jayjohn takes seriously.
“We want everyone who trains here to master the technology and develop their skills so they can bring this amazing technology to their community,” she says.