Last Friday I had the opportunity to shadow at the Careggi hospital in northern Florence. When we arrived at the hospital, we had to change out of our regular clothes into scrubs to ensure that we weren’t bringing any contaminants into the operating room that could potentially compromise the patient’s health.
The room was set up in such a way that there were two surgeries being completed at the same time using two separate “stages” which are simply square areas where the surgical Da Vinci machines are set up. I have never seen any kind of surgical procedure, so being able to observe such a technologically advanced approach to the traditional method was very interesting. It changed my perception of how surgeries may be completed. In my mind before this experience I had imagined the patient with the surgeon towering over them and the surgeon’s hands filled with instruments laboriously trying to fix the problem at hand.
The use of the Da Vinci machine minimizes the invasiveness of the procedure, requiring only small incisions to be made in the patient’s abdomen. The surgeon then sits at the machine and uses the handheld controls to manipulate the robot arms to act as their own hands. I was able to sit in the training machine and view the operation just as the surgeon views it in 3D. It reminded me of television episodes of children shows in which the characters would shrink and be able to enter someone else’s body and view the insides with perfect clarity.
Although it was strange to see the surgeon so far separated from the patient, I believe that if this type of surgery improves the rate of recovery and reduces complications, that this method should become more commonplace in hospitals. The only factor that is unfortunate is the cost of the Da Vinci machine. However, after some time, I’m sure there will be the creation of a similar machine that will create competition and reduce the sky high prices making safer surgeries more affordable to patients as well as health care systems. This ties into the “good health and well-being” UN sustainable development goal. By lowering the prices of this machine and making it easier for hospitals to obtain, there will be a higher chance that the use of this machine will become a norm for patients who need surgery, thereby giving them a safer option than the traditional surgery route.