First Robot-Assisted Surgeries Benefit Saskatchewan Residents

Taslima Jamal

Saskatchewan patients are benefitting from a new state-of-the-art robotic-assisted surgical system that contributes to less pain and faster recovery times.

Since September, more than two dozen surgeries have been performed using the da Vinci Surgical System, which is the first program of its kind in the province.

“We are pleased that Saskatchewan patients and physicians can benefit from this innovative treatment option close to home,” Health Minister Paul Merriman said. “Having a robotic surgical program advances patient care and helps to develop and attract highly-skilled physicians to our health system.”

Surgical robots are controlled by specially-trained surgeons. The surgeon’s movements are translated through the machine with precision to perform minimally invasive surgery.

Procedures performed thus far have included prostatectomy (surgery for the partial or complete removal of the prostate gland), nephrectomy (surgery to remove all or part of a kidney), pyeloplasty (surgery to remove a blockage involving the kidney) and cystectomy (surgery to remove all or part of the urinary bladder). Plans are underway to expand to gynecology oncology, thoracic surgery and other specialties in future.

“The ability to offer robotic surgeries can help improve healing and recovery times, as well as reduce pain, bleeding and the risk of infection,” Saskatchewan Health Authority Provincial Head of Surgery Dr. Ivar Mendez said. “I am pleased to be integrating this world-class technology in our operating rooms to help Saskatchewan residents.”

“We are committed to ensuring that Saskatchewan residents have the best health care possible,” CEO for the Saskatchewan Health Authority Andrew Will said. “The da Vinci Surgical System supports better patient outcomes and a positive health care experience, enabling our surgical teams to perform more procedures.”

The purchase of the da Vinci Surgical System for approximately $2.5 million marks the successful completion of the St. Paul’s Hospital Foundation capital campaign. A total of $1.5 million was raised by St. Paul’s Hospital Foundation for the surgical robot, which includes a $1.1 million gift from the Merlis Belsher family. The robot is affectionately named “Daryl” in honour of Merlis Belsher’s late son.

“Having a robotic surgical program in our province is now a reality thanks to the generous contributions of our community,” CEO for the St. Paul’s Hospital Foundation Lecina Hicke said. “We would like to especially thank the Merlis Belsher family and all our donors for their incredible support for this project.”

The Government of Saskatchewan provided $1 million to help fund the purchase of the da Vinci Surgical System and has committed to cover annual operational expenses estimated at $160,000 in year one and increasing to almost $800,000 by year five.

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