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From left, Dr. Eric Bendorf (also below), Certified Surgical Technologist Brenda Thielen, Director of Surgical Services Joe Poore and Unit Manager of Surgery Tammy Busse with the da Vinci Xi, the latest surgical robot addition at Methodist Jennie Edmundson Hospital.

Editor's Note: This story first ran in print on May 28, 2019, as part of our annual Faces of the Community series, which highlights the unsung heroes of southwest Iowa. Check out the rest of the Faces of Health section by clicking on our e-edition here.

To allow for less invasive procedures and more versatility, Methodist Jennie Edmundson Hospital is utilizing the da Vinci Xi robot as an aid in laparoscopic procedures.

Methodist has numerous robots and there was a need to have one in Council Bluffs so patients wouldn’t have to travel that far,”said Joe Poore, director of surgical services at Methodist Jennie Edmundson Hospital.

The robot da Vinci Xi is the latest version available and is favored for its dexterity.

According to Poore, five procedures have been performed at the hospital so far. Five to six are scheduled in the upcoming two months with the capability to schedule more surgeries in the future.

The robot was originally brought to the hospital in January, and the first procedure was earlier in March. To use the robot, the surgical staff validated the robot and had extensive training.

The robot was validated when the group trained and used the robot as general surgeon Dr. Eric Bendorf and a few staff members were trained in Atlanta, Georgia.

“There’s a little bit of a learning curb, so you’re trying to get as many cases in in a short period of time and capitalize on that training you’ve gotten,” Bendorf said. “But it’s the same anatomy; it’s the same procedure I’ve been doing for over twenty years. This is just a different instrument that allows you to have a little more versatility with those procedures.”

Intuitive is the company that made the da Vinci Xi, and they have been a large factor in getting the appropriate training, and making sure every staff member using the machine was comfortable with the equipment.

“Pretty much anything you can do laparoscopically you can do with the robot and almost every procedure we do laparoscopically it adds an element to it whether it’s the ability to see in more detail, the ability to access a little different of an angle, or it has some features that allow you to see anatomical structures in a different way,” Bendorf said.

The hospital advised some of the benefits for patients have been: Smaller incisions, fewer narcotics, less blood loss and quicker recovery.

In one case, Bendorf called a patient two days after a procedure and the patient was doing well.

The patient took some pain medication, but with a hernia the size this patient had, it was surprising how fast the recovery was.

He has also seen benefits for the physicians as well as the staff.

“One of the things from a surgeon’s standpoint, there are a lot of things that we do laparoscopically, like we have to do a lot of reaching. The ability to do it at a console allows for safe movements and it’s more ergonomic,” he said.

Using a console could help alleviate back pain and neck pain surgeons can experience from having to bend and reach on a daily basis.

The additional staff members working with the da Vinci Xi have the benefit of being more involved.

“It’s very much a team thing,” he said. “I think some of the techs maybe had some concerns that they were going to be standing next to the patient not doing anything and the surgeon was going to be on the other side of the room doing the operation. In actuality the techs have more patient contact.”

The hospital expects more patients will be able to be treated using the da Vinci Xi in the future and it may become available to more specialties as well.

It is recommended to speak to a physician before any procedure.

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