By the end of 2021, there were more than 10 million robotic-assisted surgical procedures performed around the world using da Vinci® surgical systems, according to its manufacturer, Intuitive Surgical, with more than 6,730 da Vinci surgical systems installed in 69 countries. Now, South Texas Health System Heart can count itself as a facility that is home to one of the surgical systems that helps surgeons perform complex, minimally invasive procedures with a surgical approach aimed at improving patient outcomes and the overall patient experience.
Following the acquisition and installation of the advanced surgical system, Dr. Ernesto Garza, MD, made history last week by performing a hernia repair procedure using the minimally invasive robotic system at STHS Heart. "It’s an advanced operating option that allows surgeons to deal with particular cases in a better way,” Garza said. “The da Vinci system gives us a greater range of motion and dexterity, making it easier to manipulate tissue. In addition, we’re able to see a highly magnified, high-resolution image of the operating field, giving us better visualization and allowing for a more precise surgery. Overall, it makes the entire surgical process a little bit easier, not just for the surgeon but also for the patient.
"Since robotic surgery requires smaller incisions, there’s less damage to the tissue, meaning reduced pain and discomfort, less risk of blood loss, transfusions and infection, and minimal scarring,” added Garza. "Compared to open surgery, the benefits of robotic surgery typically include shorter hospitalization and recovery time for patients, allowing them to return to normal activities faster. With hernia repairs like the one we recently performed, we’ve seen a significant improvement in patient outcomes and the overall patient experience, and they’re able to get back to their daily routines faster.”
Using the da Vinci Xi Surgical System, surgeons can operate on a patient via one or more small incisions, typically less than or equal to one centimeter long as opposed to the large incisions that may be required in traditional surgery. Equipped with four thin robotic arms, which have a wider range of motion than the human hand, the system offers a magnified, 3D view of the surgical site and helps surgeons operate with precision, flexibility and control.
“STHS Heart is proud to offer our patients and the Rio Grande Valley community yet another advanced surgical alternative with the da Vinci Surgical System,” said Braulio de la Garza, Director of Surgical Services, STHS Heart. “Our experienced robotic surgeons and the STHS Heart team are now able to perform minimally invasive general and bariatric procedures with positive clinical outcomes while continuing to provide the quality, compassionate care the community has come to expect from STHS.”
While Dr. Garza’s recent hernia surgery was only his first robotic procedure at STHS Heart, he has performed more than 800 robot-assisted surgeries throughout his career. He earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas at Austin and obtained his medical degree from the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston. He then completed his residency at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas. Following Garza’s inaugural hernia repair procedure, STHS Heart’s da Vinci system was used again the following day for two bariatric surgeries.
STHS Heart’s da Vinci Xi system is the third of its kind at South Texas Health System. In 2015, STHS Edinburg became the first medical facility south of San Antonio to use the da Vinci Xi system and later acquired its second da Vinci Xi in February 2021. STHS Edinburg has been accredited as a Center of Excellence in robotic, minimally invasive and hernia surgery by the Surgical Review Corporation (SRC), a non-profit, patient safety organization that accredits top hospitals and ambulatory surgical centers worldwide.
Individual results may vary. There are risks associated with any surgical procedure. Talk with your doctor about these risks to find out if robotic surgery is right for you.