The standard treatment for localized kidney cancer is to surgically remove the kidney or tumors.
The procedure is called a nephrectomy.
A typical nephrectomy required the surgeon to make an incision from the patient’s back all the way around to the side to the abdomen.
However, that's no longer the case in Bay County, thanks to a robot named Da Vinci.
Seventy-eight-year-old Eleanor Caito was diagnosed with kidney cancer three months ago.
She was told surgery was her only option.
Her biggest fear was being cut open.
"At first I said at my age I'm not going to. The doctor told me what it could cause and the pain I would be in. So I decided I would go ahead and go with it," Caito said. "I thought he was gonna’ cut me like they used to cut, you know. After he explained it to me, I was willing to try."
What Caito was willing to try was robot assisted surgery called the Da Vinci.
Physicians at Bay Medical have been using Da Vinci for about three years now, but only recently branched into kidney surgery.
"We started out doing prostectomies and hysterectomies and now, with the aid of these two gentlemen, have expanded that to do kidney surgery,” Bay Medical Staff members say.
Bay Medical Center staff announced the new application Monday, introducing the two doctors trained in using the Da Vinci for kidney surgery.
"It's been pretty exciting. It's kind of evolved into several different specialties and recently, we did some training on doing kidney surgery with the robot. We've done about eight nefrectomies or partial nefrectomies since June and it has been working out very well," doctors say.
The Da Vinci robotic surgical system provides surgeons with the same control and dexterity they have during invasive open surgeries.
The difference: they operate through a series of small holes.
"While the surgery is happening on the table across the room, the surgeon is sitting at the Da Vinci where he can see 10 times better in 3D," officials explain.
Surgeons navigate the instrument with hand and foot controls.
Each hand, wrist and finger movement translates into corresponding robotic movements.
Doctors say the endoscopic arm allows them to operate more efficiently resulting in a speedy surgery and recovery.
"Our patients are going home in 48 hours when they used to be here five to seven days. They get back to work much earlier. Now, they can drive after a week instead of two to three weeks in the past," staff members say.
"The surgery was great,” Caito says. “It took him less than he expected to do the surgery and I'm almost completely recovered in just three weeks."
More than 51,000 new cases of kidney cancer are diagnosed in the United States each year, so the new Da Vinci application will be useful.
For more information on the Da Vinci, you can call Bay Medical.