Friday, January 26, 2018

Students Meet Surgical Robots


Memorial Hermann Memorial City Medical Center hosts special program

Need a knee replacement? Let a surgeon guide a robot to do that repair.

Students from three middle and high school robotics teams recently got an up close look at two surgical robots being used at the Memorial Hermann Memorial City Medical Center.

Students from both Westchester Academy’s middle and high school and Memorial High met at the area medical complex on Jan. 19 to hear about developments and advances in robotic technology.

The students also received hands-on experience and basic training on the newest robot assistant at Memorial Hermann, known as the da Vinci Xi, as well as the Mako surgical robot.

Robots in the operating room mean that surgeons and other trained experts will be nearby programming and supervising steely advanced machines.

The da Vinci Xi® Surgical System is used in a variety of settings, including colon, rectal, urological and bariatric surgeries, as well as general surgery. The Mako robot is best known for providing a robotic-arm assist during joint replacement surgery.

In general, this robot system extends the reach of a surgeon’s own hands, allowing him or her to perform precise, complex surgeries through a few, tiny incisions.

During a robotic operation, the surgeon often sits at a console and makes the robot system perform somewhat like a video game operates.

Memorial Hermann physicians Adam Freehand, M.D., Lucrecia StaAna, M.D., and Cameron Ruttman, M.D., spoke to students and then led them through hands-on experiences. Area private schools sent students to the special robot field trip experience, too.

‘Science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, careers are intricately connected with the medical field,” said Paul O’Sullivan, CEO and vice president of Memorial Hermann Memorial City.

“While a student may not be interested in becoming a physician or other health care provider, there are so many other opportunities to help advance the medical field. We hope giving students hands-on access to some of the latest technology implemented at the hospital will spark a lifelong interest in a STEM career,” O’Sullivan also said.

Memorial Hermann Memorial City Medical Center now uses state-of-the-art equipment and technology in a variety of fields, including minimally invasive and robotic procedures.

SBISD teachers and students were impressed with what they observed and the medical technology insights they gained.

“The field trip was well organized. The students were very interested to see how the two surgical robots worked both for minimally invasive surgery and for knee-hip replacement,” said H. Noel Bayabord, who teaches computer engineering at Memorial High.

Memorial senior Daniel Park was impressed. “Getting to see a surgical robot up close and getting to control it was useful for us to understand how programming and construction come together to create a complex but easy to manage tool,” he said, also hoping that more visits could be arranged.

“I learned about how robots are getting very advanced to the point that a person could be using the medical machine in one room and be controlling it in a separate office,” said Charles Huard, also a Memorial senior.

“I learned a really cool way to do surgery on people, and I might want to study more in the medical field,” reports back Westchester Academy for International Studies (WAIS) eighth-grader Miguel Rios Hernandez.

WAIS senior Austin Armstrong found the session enriching. “Seeing and using technology that I thought only existed in science fiction novels was mind-blowing, and I can’t even wait to see how much this can improve in the future,” he said after the field trip.

The local hospital and center has 1,100 affiliated medical staff physicians and 1,800 employees. It repeatedly ranks in the top 5 percent of U.S. hospitals, and has won multiple awards for patient safety and exemplary clinical quality.

This report was compiled with assistance from Memorial Hermann Memorial City Medical Center’s marketing department.

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