da Vinci robot creating masterpieces in upper gastrointestinal surgery

A man wearing surgical scrubs and an older male patient in a hospital gown stand beside a piece of robotic equipment.
Upper Gastrointestinal Surgeon Dr Laurie Webber and patient Rex Bant
September 17, 2021

In October 2018, Fiona Stanley Hospital (FSH) became the first public hospital in WA to offer robotic urological surgery using the world-class da Vinci robot.

Three years on and the da Vinci robot has once again placed FSH at the forefront of WA public health.

In July this year a theatre team led by Upper Gastrointestinal Surgeon Dr Laurie Webber completed the first robotic pancreatic resection for cancer in WA, and the first in the public system.

The surgery utilises a form of minimally invasive laparoscopic surgery that enables Dr Webber to control robotic instruments and precise placement within the patient, from a console.

“Using the da Vinci robot for upper gastrointestinal surgery has so many advantages. The zoom and 3D vision make the details much easier to distinguish,” Dr Webber said.

“The dexterity of the robot is superior to the human hand. The robotic arms can flex in multiple planes and rotate 360 degrees, giving a full range of motion, and the precision means you can access very difficult to reach places.”

Compared to the traditional open surgery, robotic surgery results in less blood loss and smaller incisions. This means patients have less pain and scarring, and benefit from significantly reduced recovery times.

74-year-old Rex Bant was the first patient to undergo upper gastrointestinal surgery using the da Vinci robot. Mr Bant underwent a radical antegrade modular pancreatic splenectomy (RAMPS), otherwise known as a removal of part of the pancreas, stomach and spleen.

“Rex arrived on Tuesday and was discharged by the weekend. Normally a surgery like this would result in a much longer recovery time, typically around 7 to 10 days,” Dr Webber said.

Dr Webber brings great experience to FSH, having spent his fellowship in hospitals all around the world with a focus on minimal invasive surgery.

Congratulations to Dr Webber and the FSH theatre team for their work in improving the surgery experience for patients like Rex, and for continuing to pave the way for the future of minimally invasive and effective surgery. 

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