KHSC launches new robot-assisted surgical program

News / General / Technology
By Meaghan Quinn

Innovative technology means shorter hospital stays, faster recovery times and care closer to home for patients

Kingston Health Sciences Centre continues to invest in innovation and patient care through the recent purchase of a robot-assisted surgical system. This robotic system allows for more precise and minimally invasive surgeries. For patients, this means shorter hospital stays, faster recovery times and innovative care closer to home.

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 that before could only be done with a large incision. 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,” says 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,”

For patients, the most important benefit of a robot-assisted surgery 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.

“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,” says David Bailey, a KHSC patient who recently underwent robot-assisted surgery. “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.

“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,” says 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 the generous donation of A. Britton Smith of Kingston, Ontario. In recognition of his 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,” says Karen Humphreys Blake, acting President and CEO of University Hospital Kingston Foundation. “It is because of generous supporters such as Mr. Smith 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, with a plan to expand for patients for whom this is the best surgical approach.