The six million dollar doctor?
Years and years ago, there was a television show called “The Six Million Dollar Man.” The man in question had been surgically enhanced via something called “bionic” technology. In the television show, this bionic technology effectively gave the man superpowers. Eventually a second TV show was created, in which a woman (and a dog) were also given bionic parts.
On TV, the operations were performed by human doctors.
Fast forward to the next century, when Steven Hodson ran across a bizarre billboard. The picture shows a young woman, with bright eyes and an extra-large smile, along with the following quote:
Robotic hysterectomy was my answer.
To which Hodson wondered, what was the question?
After coming up with some possible questions (programming Roombas?), I delved a little deeper. The billboard came from St. Rita’s Medical Center in Lima, Ohio, and its website has an entire page on all of the robotic gynecology operations it performs. Here’s an example:
Treatment for endometriosis often requires removal of the entire uterus and ovaries as well as the removal of the abnormal tissue implants. Using the robotic surgical system, the surgeon is better able to remove the uterus and ovaries, is able to remove the abnormal tissue implants, and is able to do so through smaller incisions. This causes less blood loss, less pain and ultimately better outcomes. The end result is usually less time in the hospital, a more rapid recovery at home, and a faster return to normal activities.
Drs. Chung, Scherger, Niesen and Stallkamp are performing robot-assisted laparoscopic uterine surgery for endometriosis. They have many years of experience in minimally invasive surgery and, with the addition of the new robotic platform, are performing more complex surgeries.
Of course, these robots are still under the control of a doctor. But if we’re moving toward 3-D printing, how far are we from deploying medical robots to remote areas (Antarctica, perhaps?).