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HEALTHBEAT 4: Robotic surgery provides benefits to patients and doctors

Sioux City (KTIV) – For a decade, MercyOne Siouxland Medical Center has been using robots for surgeries like colon cancer. It’s a technology doctors there say is becoming more widely used in hospitals across the nation.

Colon cancer is a diagnosis no one wants to hear, but according to the American Cancer Society, that news was a reality for more than 101,000 people just this last year.

“There are genetic types of colon cancer,” said Dr. Larry Volz, MercyOne Medical Center’s Chief Medical Officer. “The majority of colon cancer really is sporadic and most colon cancer, unfortunately, is preventable with appropriate screening.”

But, Dr. Volz said colon cancer is often seen in people who didn’t get that screening or from someone that developed it between their screenings.

“Ideally the real cure is prevention and making sure that we find those precancerous areas before they actually become cancer and have a chance to spread,” said Dr. Volz.

If they do spread though…

“Surgery would be the cure,” said Dr. Volz. “We’ve had a lot of work around colon cancer, the process in which we take care of patients, the technology we’ve brought in.”

That technology includes robots. It’s something MercyOne Siouxland Medical Center has been using for nearly a decade.

“A lot of our colon cancer surgeries are now done robotically,” said Dr. Volz. “So we can do really big operations now with really minimal pain.”

That’s just one of the many pros, Dr. Volz said comes with robotic surgery.

“It gives you better visualization,” said Dr. Volz. “At the end of the instrument, it gives you a wrist like motion. So you have better control and more mobility inside the abdomen when you’re doing that operation.”

And the demand to use robots continues to increase.

But, with that growth, came a problem. Dr. Volz said it was getting harder to schedule patients for these robotic procedures. So MercyOne bought a second robot.

“Waiting a month to be able to get back to doing work because we can’t get onto the robot for a month, isn’t, it’s not the care we want to provide,” said Dr. Volz. “Better outcomes is what we are looking for.”

In September, MercyOne Siouxland Medical Center was recognized, for the second year in a row, as a high performing medical facility for colon cancer surgery by the U.S. News & World Report.

The award was based on patient outcomes, volume, nurse staffing and re-admission prevention.

Michaela Feldmann

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