surgery

Williamson Medical Center and Bone and Joint Institute of Tennessee hosted an Advanced Surgical Technologies Community Event this past Tuesday morning.

Doctors Michelle Montville, Timothy Johnson, Christopher Stark and Colin Looney presented on their work with Williamson Medical Center's various robotic surgical systems.

Representatives from medical technology companies Intuitive, Exactech and Stryker offered attendants hands-on experience with three surgical technologies used at Williamson Medical Center.

Nick Tingle, an Intuitive Robotic Surgical Systems representative, helped attendants to simulate surgery using Da Vinci Robot System.

Williamson Medical Center uses the Da Vinci to perform a variety of traditionally invasive surgeries, particularly in the abdominal region, such as hysterectomies and hernia repair.

Tingle explained Intuitive's vision for the technology.

"It's all about patient outcomes," he said. "We see reductions in the lengths of stay, reductions in surgical site infections, and reductions in recurrences, complications and readmission rates. The biggest thing we're seeing now is a reduced need for opioids. Many Da Vinci patients go home the same day with just Tylenol or Ibuprofen. It's incredible to see a difference in that aspect considering the current opioid crisis."

Johnson, a general surgeon at the Williamson Medical Center, confirmed the reduction of opioid prescriptions in his own practice. Dr. Johnson uses the Da Vinci robot to fix abdominal wall hernias.

He further explained that as a result of using the Da Vinci robot, "I have been able to significantly reduce the amount of prescription pain medicines that I give to my patients after surgery, and that means less that they need to take and less out in the world."

Johnson and the other Williamson Medical Center general surgeons have worked closely with the Da Vinci system for the past five years and have "come a long way."

Many surgeons entering the field are already trained in using the robot. However, for doctors who enter without training in using the robot, such as Johnson, Intuitive provides rigorous training, including proctored cases before surgeons can operate the robot alone.

The robotic systems require extensive involvement from the surgeon during the surgery.

Lindsey Sullivan, Senior Business Development Manager at the Bone and Joint Institute and an organizer of the event, explained that the surgeon's involvement or lack thereof remains one of the greatest areas of misconceptions regarding robotic surgical systems.

Sullivan hoped that by inviting the public to speak with surgeons and experient the equipment hands-on, potential patients would see how involved the surgery remains for the surgeon.

"Dr. Johnson is no more than five feet from the patient at any point," she said. "He's always there. The equipment doesn't operate independently…it is just a tool used by surgeons to enhance the surgical experience.

Williamson Medical Center and Bone and Joint Institute of Tennessee hosted a similar event later in the evening for physicians. Going forward, they plan to continue to host similar community events.

Sullivan said hopes this event shows the community about the investment that the Hospital and Bone and Joint Institute have made into the surgical program.

"We want the community to know that we have all of these services here at Williamson Medical Center and Bone and Joint Institute," she said. "We can offer all of this here so the does not have to make a long journey for quality healthcare."