St. Nicholas surgical tech cover

The da Vinci Xi Surgical System is one the world’s most advanced robotic surgery technologies.

SHEBOYGAN – Patients at HSHS St. Nicholas Hospital now have access to state-of-the-art surgical technologies that provide minimally-invasive procedures for everything from hip replacement to cancer surgery.

St. Nicholas and partner Prevea Health have recently acquired the da Vinci Xi Surgical System, which is one the world’s most advanced robotic surgery technologies, and the HANA table, which allows for more minimally-invasive hip surgeries and fracture repairs.

The da Vinci System utilizes three-dimensional high definition vision, along with specially-designed instruments and computer software, to give surgeons the ability to operate with enhanced precision and control. The machine’s robotic arms also have mechanical wrists that bend and rotate to mimic the movement of the human wrist.

Dr. Andrew Radtke, a urologic surgeon with Prevea who uses the da Vinci to perform procedures to remove cancerous tumors from the kidneys and prostate, said the da Vinci provides maximum control for the surgeon. “It never makes a movement that I don’t make. Some people worry is the robot doing the surgery, but the arms are just an extension of my arms.”

Most importantly, the da Vinci makes surgeries more minimally-invasive, which means less pain, a shorter hospital stay and shorter recovery times for patients.

“In the best case scenario, patients are going home the same day for kidney cancer or prostate cancer surgery. Otherwise, they’re just staying overnight. A lot of times I’m not using any narcotics for pain at all. We’re using these little incisions that are like a centimeter in size to get at the prostate or the kidney, so it really amounts to faster recovery, less pain, more function sooner for a lot of patients,” said Radtke.

The HANA table creates similar results, as hip replacement patients can return home in a matter of hours. This is due to the table’s unique design that allows surgeons to take a direct anterior approach to hip replacements, which is less invasive than traditional surgeries.

According to Prevea orthopedic hip and knee surgeon Dr. Patrick Riggle, “there’s less trauma around the area, meaning you’re not cutting through muscle groups, you’re not detaching tendons, whereas normally you would in a traditional hip replacement. With that, there’s less pain. There’s better function post-operatively, so our patients are waking up from surgery and moving around right away. They’re navigating stairs, and they’re usually out the same day.”

While the HANA table and da Vinci System are bringing cutting-edge technology to St. Nicholas, they are also bringing highly-skilled, fellowship-trained surgeons such as Dr. Riggle and Dr. Radtke to Sheboygan County, which is something Prevea Health Chief Medical Officer Dr. Gregory Grose feels is the best part of the new technologies.

According to Dr. Grose, fellowship-trained surgeons are able to focus on a specific skill set in addition to the already extensive training required to be a surgeon. “Dr. Radtke spent an extra year doing just robotics, and Dr. Riggle spent an extra year doing just joint replacement surgery, so the advantage of that is you have a highly-experienced crew that’s able to come into a market like this and utilize the technology here to capitalize on minimally-invasive surgery, and have enhanced patient care, and reduced surgery time and recovery time. It’s very exciting to have not only the equipment here, but the more exciting part is having the fellowship-trained surgeons.”

Founded in 1890, HSHS St. Nicholas Hospital is a licensed 185-bed nonprofit community hospital that is part of the Hospital Sisters Health System. Prevea Health, which was founded in 1996, partners with St. Nicholas to provide access to over 200 physicians in more than 60 specialty areas.

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