Rewriting Life

Robotic Surgery at Children's Hospital Boston

Hiep Nguyen, a surgeon at Children’s Hospital Boston, is pioneering new, minimally invasive surgical techniques using a surgical robot.

Slideshow: The surgical robot offers three-dimensional vision and articulated tips on the surgical tools that go inside the patient, allowing for smaller, finer movements than traditional laparoscopy.
To perform procedures, surgeons sit at a console across the room from the patient. The console provides a stereoscopic view inside a patient’s body. The surgeon controls the tools that top the robot’s arms via two multi-jointed handles on the console.
Slideshow: The robot has three arms–one with an imaging endoscope, and two with surgical grippers that can hold tissue for cutting or thread for suturing.
Slideshow: Nguyen, who specializes in pediatric and robotic surgeries, says the robot has proven helpful in operating on children, who are smaller and therefore more difficult to treat laparoscopically.
Slideshow: A surgeon reviews the patient’s chart before surgery. He is preparing to operate on an eight-year-old girl to fix a blocked kidney.
Slideshow: Traditional laparoscopic tools are stiff, making it difficult to move them within the body cavity.
Slideshow: Doctors prepare the patient for surgery.
Slideshow: A nurse covers the robot with sterile plastic before it is wheeled over to the patient.
Slideshow: Before bringing the robot to the operating table, surgeons begin the procedure with a traditional laparoscopic endoscope. Screens poised above their heads project the view inside the body.
Slideshow: The robot is positioned over the patient.
Slideshow: The stereoscopic viewer provides a three-dimensional image, which gives surgeons a better sense of the tools’ position relative to tissue.
Slideshow: One console on the surgical robot is named Wall-E, after the trash-collecting robot in Pixar’s animated film. The second console, named Eva after another character in the same movie, is a unique feature of the newest version of the robot. It allows two surgeons to operate together.

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