When Peoria resident Davonna Dutton made plans with her doctor at Glendale’s Abrazo Arrowhead campus to have a total hysterectomy, she remembered how her mom had undergone the surgery about 20 years ago when it was much more invasive.
Ms. Dutton said her mom’s recovery time was eight to 12 weeks with a much higher risk of infection. But thanks to the advent of robotic assisted procedures like hers, doctors are able to operate with less damage to the body than with open surgery.
Ms. Dutton, 39, said she is definitely glad robotics was an option.
The surgery, which happened last week, included only five small incisions and took an hour-and-a-half.
She said recovery should take around six weeks, but she is up and walking and functional — a far cry from when her mother went under the knife and lifting a gallon of milk was painful.
Being a single mother, Ms. Dutton said, she doesn’t have a lot of time to be down.
“Internally, I still have to heal. But there’s less scarring and less risk of infection. I’m definitely ok with less downtime,” she said. “It’s really a blessing.”
The surgical robot market has become a $5.5 billion industry and is projected to grow to $24 billion by 2025.
More than 693,000 robot-assisted procedures were performed in 2017 in the United States, according to iData Research.
Closer to home, surgeons at Glendale’s Abrazo Arrowhead campus, 18701 N. 67th Ave., have now completed more than 5,000 robot-assisted surgical procedures. More than 1,000 of those will have been completed in 2019.
Abrazo Arrowhead CEO Jeff Patterson said robots are increasingly being used in the fields of urology, gynecology, oncology and gastroenterology.
He said robotic surgery is the biggest advancement in surgical care in the last two decades and continues on an upward trajectory.
It takes the minimally invasive technique of laparoscopy a step further — from surgery done through small incisions, using small tubes and tiny cameras and surgical instruments to the use of computer guidance and magnified, 3D views of the surgical site. It has opened the door to more precision, flexibility, improved control and the ability to operate with less damage to the body.
“Continual innovations in minimally invasive surgery have made robot-assisted procedures an option for patients with a wide range of conditions,” Mr. Patterson said.
Dr. Jennifer Preston, clinical assistant professor of surgery at University of Arizona and general surgery residency program director, said that over the last five years robotics has rapidly become the main technique for minimally invasive surgeries. About 80% of her work is in robotics.
She said the benefits out-weigh a lot of things people say negatively about robotics. Laparoscopy doesn’t offer the same abilities — the visualization is three dimensional, it is easier on patients and it is better for surgeons ergonomically, increasing dexterity and reducing fatigue.
In the long run, laparoscopy will become obsolete, but it is at least a couple decades away from that fate, she said.
“We are really far from that becoming the case, but look at what has happened in technological advancement. We have come a phenomenal way since the first generation [of robotics] and we are going to get better,” she said. “More companies are developing technology and that will increase the competition, which will bring down the cost. Those who are against robots scream about cost, but once there is more competition, that argument will go away.”
One of the biggest players in the surgical robot industry is Intuitive, which created the da Vinci surgical system, controlled by a surgeon from a console and designed to facilitate complex surgery using a minimally invasive approach. There are more than 5,000 da Vinci systems in hospitals that had completed more than 6 million minimally invasive surgeries worldwide by 2018.
Mr. Patterson said three daVinci surgical robots are in service at the Abrazo Arrowhead campus.
“The daVinci is often used for gynecology, urology, cancer, hernia repair and other procedures,” he said.