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LVHN’s Robotic Surgery Team Surpasses 25,000 Procedures

LVHN’s Robotic Surgery Team Surpasses 25,000 Procedures

As Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN) celebrates 25,000 surgeries performed by its robotic team since the inception of the program in 2008, you can forgive Angelo Baccala, MD, Chief, Division of Urology with LVPG Urology, for struggling to remember the first time he personally used a robot in a procedure at the network.

“For me that’s going back more than 11 years,” says Baccala, also Deputy Physician in Chief for Lehigh Valley Institute for Surgical Excellence. “I could attest to the quality of the equipment as I had trained at some great places before I came here. I remember being very excited in being able to give our patients state-of-the-art care.”

The program has accelerated very quickly to the point where it rivals the best in the country. LVHN has helped thousands of individuals through robotic surgeries with fewer incisions, less blood loss, less pain, less scarring, resulting in quality outcomes and a faster return to normal activity.

“We’ve developed our Robotic Surgery Center for Excellence with the explicit reason of constantly improving our outcomes,” says Michael Pasquale, MD, Chair, Department of Surgery and Physician in Chief for Lehigh Valley Institute for Surgical Excellence. “Our continued investment in acquiring the latest surgical technologies shows our commitment to offering patients the best possible care.”

In the beginning, LVHN’s robotic team focused primarily on urologic and gynecologic surgeries using the trailblazing da Vinci Surgical Systems. Surgical techniques have evolved along with various da Vinci system iterations, the S, Si, HD, X and Xi. LVHN is one of very few health systems to offer the SP (single port), which is used in delicate surgeries through a 1-inch incision.

Today, the team consists of more than 100 robotic surgeons in 13 service lines. They include:

  • General surgery
  • Colorectal surgery
  • Gynecology
  • Urology
  • Thoracic surgery
  • ENT
  • Bariatric surgery
  • Gynecology oncology
  • Surgical oncology
  • Urogynecology
  • Reproductive surgery
  • Spine
  • Orthopedic surgery

Surgeons at Lehigh Valley Orthopedic Institute are the latest to offer robotic technology. Pasquale says six total joint replacement platforms have been initiated as of early 2022, which brings the total robots being used around the network to 19. Robotic surgery is available at the majority of LVHN hospital sites, so there is always a convenient location for surgery with this technology.

The newest robotic devices available to complement LVHN’s suite of da Vinci Surgical Systems include:

  • MAKO – used in robotic-arm assisted surgery for precise knee replacement that can be preplanned using a 3D virtual model.
  • VELYS – a digital platform using data before, during and after the procedure that allows the surgeon to tailor knee replacement surgery to meet a specific patient’s needs.
  • MONARCH – from Auris Health, which uses state-of-the-art robotic, software, data science and bronchoscopy in difficult lung cancer cases.
  • MAZOR X STEALTH – which uses 3D imaging for preplanning, accuracy and precision in back surgeries.
  • IRIS – LVHN is one of the first institutions in the world to offer this unique da Vinci technology that produces 3D images of patient anatomy for partial nephrectomies.

The Orthopedic Institute also is looking to become an education center for robotic surgery where outside clinicians can benefit from the experiences of the LVHN robotic team. Pasquale believes the education center will be in place within a year.

“The program will be the whole package,” Baccala says. “It’s about matching patients with the right technology and with the right surgical teams. We really want to showcase what we’ve been able to accomplish.”

So, how long will it take LVHN’s robotic team to reach 50,000 surgeries?

“I’d say, conservatively, maybe seven years,” Pasquale says. “I can see us doing 5,000 procedures a year soon.”

Will the day come when most surgeries are done robotically?

“I believe that we will get to the point where most surgeries involve some sort of robot,” Baccala says. “Fewer incisions, less recovery time, getting patients home faster – it’s the goal we all have.”

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Lehigh Valley Institute for Surgical Excellence

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