Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital
New Brunswick • Somerset

DaVinci Robot Debuts at Medical Center

July 6, 2010
Edison Crespo still remembers the pain from abdominal surgery 30 years ago that kept him in bed for weeks. Facing prostate cancer surgery, Crespo, 59, of Manville, braced for another painful recovery.
But this time was different – he had very little pain and was up and walking shortly after surgery to remove his prostate. 
“It was incredible,” he says.
Crespo was the first patient to undergo robotic surgery at Somerset Medical Center in June using the medical center’s new da Vinci Surgical System. The system allows surgeons to perform even complex cases through only tiny incisions, avoiding opening up the abdomen. 
Through camera scopes inserted into the abdomen, surgeons get a high-definition, 3-D view, enabling them to see tissues and blood vessels at a level of detail far beyond what is possible with open surgery or laparoscopic surgery. Seated at a console away from the operating table, the surgeon controls the system’s tiny instruments, which have an even greater range of motion than the human hand.
“With the da Vinci system, we have the best vision to do surgery – it’s like watching ‘Avatar’ in 3-D,” says Marc Greenstein, DO, FACOS, a urologist at Somerset Medical Center who performed Crespo’s surgery. “For patients, it means shorter hospital stays, less pain, less scarring and a reduced risk of blood loss and complications following surgery. They are able to get back to their normal activities much faster than after traditional surgery.” 
Patients who undergo a prostatectomy performed with the robotic system report fewer side effects than those who undergo the open or laparoscopic procedure and return more quickly to normal urinary and sexual functioning.
“Until recently, this technology was only available at large academic medical centers,” adds Joel Fischer, MD, FACS, chair of the Prostate Cancer Institute at Somerset Medical Center’s Steeplechase Cancer Center. “We are excited to be able to offer men in our community this state-of-the-art treatment for prostate cancer close to home.” 
In addition to prostate cancer surgery, robotic surgery is also being used for bladder and kidney surgeries at Somerset Medical Center and will soon be used to treat uterine and ovarian cancers as more physicians are trained to use the system.
Surgeons are assisted by a team of nurses who have specialized training in robotic surgery. After their surgery, patients are cared for in the medical center’s Paul R. Nardoni Oncology Pavilion, a 35-bed inpatient unit with hotel-caliber rooms and amenities such as flat-screen televisions, DVD players and sleeper sofas. Nurses on the unit have also have expertise in caring for patients who have had abdominal surgery.
Crespo, a father of four and grandfather of nine, is grateful for the opportunity to have robotic surgery instead of traditional open surgery. 
Most of all, he is thankful that his cancer is gone.
“Now I have new life,” he says.
For more information about robotic surgery at Somerset Medical Center, visit somersetmedicalcenter.com. For a physician referral, call 880-443-4605.