Section: Highlights

St. Jude Designated National Leader in Surgical Excellence

St. Jude Designated National Leader in Surgical Excellence Continuing its commitment to be at the forefront of surgical expertise and technology, St. Jude Medical Center’s Robotic Surgery Program has been designated as an Epicenter and Case Observation Site by Intuitive Surgical, maker of the da Vinci Surgical System.

The national designation recognizes the small number of hospitals that offer patients highly experienced surgeons, dedicated robotic surgical teams, and exceptional clinical outcomes. As a formal training site, St. Jude hosts surgeons from across the nation and around the world as they learn robotic surgical techniques by observing the hospital’s physicians.

The recognition includes being one of four hospitals in the western United States to be designated as an Epicenter for robotic lung surgery — a dramatically-less invasive surgery than standard lung cancer surgery. Daniel Oh, MD, medical director of the St. Jude Center for Thoracic and Esophageal Diseases, was among the first in the nation to routinely perform robotic lung cancer removal — demonstrating the enormous benefits of the procedure by reducing recovery times and complications, as well as improving outcomes. “What is uncommon about St. Jude is the commitment found here to training and continuous improvement,” explains Dr. Oh, a Harvard-trained surgeon whose technique is routinely studied by surgeons, from Russia to Korea. “Any hospital can purchase the technology, but using it to meaningfully advance patient care is a much higher standard.”

Thoracic surgery is just one of the areas in which St. Jude is creating the next generation of minimally-invasive care. Home to a multispecialty robotic surgery program, St. Jude is transforming care by offering robotic treatment options in: colorectal, gynecology and gynecologic oncology, urogynecology, hepatobiliary, thoracic, urology and general surgery. “Robotic-assisted surgery has significantly changed what we can offer patients in terms of safety and outcomes — and we’re just beginning,” explains Theodoros Daskalakis, MD, one of only six surgeons in the western United States to be named a national mentor in robotic general surgery. “By allowing a precision that isn’t possible with other techniques, robotic surgery is reducing the physical and emotional impact of surgery for patients.”

The hospital’s robotic surgery program, supported by a generous community, includes a nearly $4.2 million investment in the latest technologies that seamlessly translate a surgeon’s hand movement into smaller, more precise movements. The robotic “wrists” hold miniaturized instruments and a high definition 3D camera offering magnified views of the surgical field. Controlled by the surgeon, the robotic arms eliminate any hand tremor while scaling down the surgeon’s movements — making even the most delicate maneuvers possible. Because the ability of the robotic wrists to bend and rotate far exceeds that of a human hand, St. Jude surgeons are able to perform complex and highly controlled motions that would otherwise be impossible.

“We are committed to providing leading-edge technology that allows surgeons to find new and better ways of providing quality patient care,” explains Brian Helleland, chief executive, St. Jude Medical Center, who says a generous community made the investment in robotic surgical technology possible. “Earning national recognition as a Robotic Surgery Epicenter is our newest milestone in fulfilling our mission to this community and advancing the field of medicine.”

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