Abrazo Scottsdale Campus, Arrowhead Campus Offer Chance for Students, Public to Perform Virtual Robotic Surgery

To spark interest in medical careers, Abrazo Scottsdale Robotic Surgery Director Nicholas Harrel, M.D., arranged for more than 200 students to perform virtual operations with a robotic surgical system.

“There is a crisis coming in medicine. Fewer people are going to medical school, and even fewer are choosing surgery. Growing concerns about debt and healthcare discourage people from choosing medicine. I want to show the kids that what I do is not only beneficial to society, but it’s really cool,” Dr. Harrel said.

Students from the Center for Research in Engineering, Science and Technology at Paradise Valley High School, located across the street from Abrazo Scottsdale campus, participated in demonstrations of the da Vinci Xi Robotic Surgical System at the high school. Dr. Harrel also serves as Abrazo Scottsdale Campus’ trauma medical director and chairmen of the surgery department.

Harrell and Dr. Jacqueline Belen, a gynecologist at Abrazo Scottsdale Campus, conducted the interactive sessions for more than seven hours at the school-sponsored event, which was hosted by the surgical robot’s manufacturer.

Abrazo Arrowhead Campus also offered the opportunity for the public to “test-drive” the Da Vinci robotic equipment, allowing both children and adults to take the controls at the da Vinci Xi Surgical System controls in the hospital lobby for two days.

The new technology provides advanced robotic technology including high-definition, 3-D visualization. It also may allow for enhanced dexterity and greater precision and control for the surgeon. For example, the endoscope can be used on any of the four arms and the Xi can be docked at different angles providing easier access to the patient and more flexibility for the surgeon.

“The da Vinci Xi Surgical System provides surgeons with an alternative to both traditional open surgery and conventional laparoscopy, putting a surgeon’s hands at the controls of an advanced robotic platform,” said Frank Molinaro, Abrazo Community Health Network’s  Market Chief Executive Officer.

Surgeons using the system have more flexibility and a more ergonomic work environment, which means less operator fatigue and discomfort. Benefits to patients include better clinical outcomes, significantly less pain for patients, reduced risk of infection, less scarring and blood loss, shorter recovery time and a faster return to everyday activities.