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Robotic Urology Surgeries: Decade of Advancements

Gerald Y. Park, MD

Gerald Y. Park, MD

Dr. Park earned his medical degree from the University of Texas Medical Branch and completed his residency at the University of Kansas School of Medicine. He has performed robotic surgeries since 2002.

More than 10 years after the introduction of robot-assisted surgeries, their use continues to increase as technological advances allow surgeons to perform an expanded range of complicated procedures with more precision.
“North Kansas City Hospital was the first hospital North of the River to perform robotic-assisted surgeries, and it continues to be ahead of the curve,” said Gerald Y. Park, MD, a urologist with Kansas City Urology Care. Dr. Park performed North Kansas City Hospital’s first robotic procedure, a prostatectomy, on March 30, 2006.

North Kansas City Hospital surgeons use a da Vinci robotic surgical system to perform complex procedures with a minimally invasive approach.
“Robotic technology is a more sophisticated way to do laparoscopic surgeries,” Dr. Park explained. “Since it’s 3-D, I can make one small incision and perform fine, complex movements in areas that would be more difficult with open surgery. I have more control in tight spaces where it can be difficult to see.”

The Standard

In 2000, when surgical robots were first introduced, surgeons performed just 1,000 robotic surgeries worldwide. At the time, the healthcare industry expressed concern over whether the upfront costs were justifiable and insurance reimbursement issues. “But, people began seeing the benefits of reduced blood loss, less pain and lower chance of infection,” Dr. Park said.
By 2014, that number had grown to 570,000. “For many urologic surgeries, robotic surgery is now accepted as the standard,” Dr. Park noted. “Urologists were among the first to adopt because it has advantage for confined surgeries. Every urologist coming out of residency today is trained in robotic surgery, so it has become part of the culture.”

Urological Robotic Procedures

Dr. Park performs more than 100 robotic surgeries annually. Common procedures include:

• Adrenalectomy
• Cystectomy with ileal
• Nephrectomy (partial or radical)
• Nephroureterectomy
• Prostatectomy
• Pyeloplasty
• Renal cyst decortication
• Ureteral reimplantation

Robotic Surgery Candidates

In the early years of robot-assisted surgeries, people within the range of a normal body weight or who had not had any previous surgeries were considered ideal candidates. Technological advances have expanded those criteria.

“Now we can offer robotic surgery to almost every patient referred by a primary care doctor,” he noted. “Robotics actually makes it easier to perform surgery on morbidly obese patients. With patients who have had previous surgeries, I can work around the scar tissue.”

Other Indications

Robotic surgery is also used for gynecological, general surgical, colorectal and thoracic procedures. For patients, the minimally invasive nature of robot-assisted surgeries translates into faster recovery times, reduced complication rates, lower wound infection rates, shorter hospital stays, decreased pain and scarring, and less blood loss.