New robot-assisted surgical program launched at Kingston Health Sciences Centre

Patient David Bailey (left) looks at the robot-assisted surgical system at KHSC with Dr. Robert Siemens (centre), and Dr. Jason Izard (right). Submitted photo.

Using the latest, innovative technology means shorter hospital stays, faster recovery times, and care closer to home for patients, according to Kingston Health Sciences Centre (KHSC).

The recent purchase of a robot-assisted surgical system allows for more precise and minimally-invasive surgeries. In a traditional open surgery, patients experience long, deep incisions through the body wall which can lead to discomfort and a lengthy recovery period. The robotic surgical system enables a minimally-invasive approach to surgery, which could only be done with a large incision before. The result is the same surgical procedure being performed with the assistance of the robotic system, replicating the movement of the surgeon’s hands through smaller incisions.

“The robot allows us to increase the number and types of minimally invasive surgeries we offer to our patients in the region,” said Dr. Robert Siemens, KHSC Urologist and Head of Urology at Queen’s University. “Given the much improved visualization, almost as if you’re right inside the body, and amazing precision of the instruments, we are able to perform a number of different surgeries with these small incisions that we just couldn’t offer without the assistance of the robot.”

According to KHSC, the most important benefit of robot-assisted surgery for patients is the potential to improve health outcomes. This includes: reducing postoperative pain and discomfort, decreasing the need for blood transfusions, significantly reducing the amount of time patients spend in hospital following their procedure and enabling treatments that are not currently possible.

For patient David Bailey, who recently underwent a robot-assisted surgery, the benefits were obvious.

“I had previously undergone open surgery which made simple things, such as getting out of bed, a huge challenge. That type of recovery was not one I wanted to experience again. Hearing that I could have minimally invasive surgery to treat my prostate cancer gave me complete confidence in the care I would receive,” said Bailey. “A day after my procedure, I went home and needed next to no care. I enjoyed Christmas with my family cancer free and, surprisingly, pain free.”

Robotic assisted operating systems are increasingly used to provide minimally invasive, precision surgery in prostate, renal, bladder, gynecological and head and neck cancers, as well as other surgeries. They have become a keystone technology used in providing minimally invasive surgeries, are the approach of choice in an increasing number of clinical situations, and are vital to innovative training programs, those with KHSC explained.

“Robotic assisted surgery is becoming the standard of care for certain complex procedures across North America and this investment in our hospital highlights its commitment towards surgical innovations in our region,” said Dr. Siemens. “This technology will springboard future opportunities for other technological research, outcomes investigations and teaching innovations.”

The purchase of the robot-assisted program was made possible through a generous donation from A. Britton Smith, president and CEO of Homestead Land Holdings. In recognition of this support, the new robotics program will officially be named the ‘A. Britton Smith Q.C. Robotics Program.’

“We are deeply grateful to Britton Smith for his leadership and support towards the purchase of the robot-assisted surgical system. This is a legacy that will benefit the patients and families within our Southeastern Ontario community through the innovation and improved patient care it positions KHSC to continue to provide,” said Karen Humphreys Blake, acting President and CEO of University Hospitals Kingston Foundation. “It is because of generous supporters such as this that we are able to continue to grow the outstanding care provided in our community.”

The A. Britton Smith Q.C. Robotics Program officially launched in November 2018 and has performed over 20 robotic-assisted surgeries. The program is currently offered for certain prostate, rectal and general surgeries, and KHSC plans to expand services for patients for whom robot-assisted surgery is the best surgical approach.

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