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Interview with Dr. Howard Miller, M.D. on Robotic Surgery

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Dave Kurten: The 3WZ Medical Minute is brought to you by Mount Nittany Health System. Our topic this week: robotic surgery. Our guest: Howard Miller, MD. Good morning.

Dr. Miller: Good morning.

Dave Kurten: Dr. Miller, let’s start off by telling everybody, what is robotic surgery?

Dr. Miller: Well, robotic surgery is a catchall term for a form of laparoscopic surgery that we’re performing at Mount Nittany now. The laparoscope is a camera, which enters the abdominal cavity. We usually put carbon dioxide gas into the abdominal cavity so we have space to work. And the operating robot is made by a company known as Intuitive Surgical; it’s called the da Vinci® robot. It’s a specialized instrument which allows us to have a 3-D view of the surgical field and to perform more fine and delicate, articulated movements with the surgical wrists compared to traditional laparoscopic instruments, which tend to be more limited in their flexibility and scope.

Dave Kurten: How is robotic surgery beneficial to patients?

Dr. Miller: Oftentimes, we’re able to do things through smaller incisions that we weren’t able to do before. So, for example, in my field of urology, we’re able to do prostatectomy surgeries − which would have required a relatively large lower abdominal incision − through a series of small incisions with which we can access the prostate. This usually means for the patient that there’s less pain after the procedure. There’s typically a lower risk of bleeding and blood transfusions associated with the surgery. And it also seems that the patients are able to return home and return to work faster with less overall discomfort and a shorter healing time.

Dave Kurten: Which procedures at Mount Nittany can use robotic surgery to treat community members?

Dr. Miller: The most common procedure from my perspective in urology is a prostatectomy, which we do for patients with prostate cancer. We’re also able to do kidney surgeries robotically, and if reconstruction is needed or small kidney tumors need to be taken out. My colleagues in gynecology are currently doing hysterectomies and endometriosis surgery as well. Therefore, female pelvic surgeries, and, in the future, there’s the possibility of expansion for surgery for fibroids or on ovarian lesions – things of that nature.

Dave Kurten: Where can community members get more information on robotic surgery at Mount Nittany?

Dr. Miller: They can speak to their primary care physician and, if appropriate, a referral to one of the robotic surgeons in the community can be made. Mountnittany.org also links to the website of the hospital, and they can find surgeons or information on that website. Intuitive Surgical and da Vinci Surgical Systems also have their own websites specifically regarding the robotic techniques.

Dave Kurten: Dr. Howard Miller has been our guest on this edition of the Medical Minute. Thank you for your time.

Howard Miller: Thank you.

Dave Kurten:  The 3WZ Medical Minute is brought to you by Mount Nittany Health System. Mount Nittany – Life Forward.


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