Deer Valley Hospital Surgical Robot Advances Women's Medicine

Arlene England, DO with the new da Vinci Si surgical system at John C. Lincoln Deer Valley Hospital
Gynecological surgeon Arlene England, DO, sits at the controls of the new da Vinci Si surgical system robot at John C. Lincoln Deer Valley Hospital.

The history of women's medicine is coming to fruition with the advent of the da Vinci Si® Robotic Surgical System recently installed at John C. Lincoln Deer Valley Hospital, according to gynecological surgeon Arlene England, DO.

Dr. England, a member of the Deer Valley Hospital's medical staff who has been performing traditional laparoscopic surgery for 25 years, is one of the hospital's trained robotic surgeons.

"Women's surgery started with large incisions," Dr. England said, "and took a giant step forward when we started doing minimally invasive laparoscopic surgeries."

"Now, almost all gynecological procedures can be done without open surgery," she said. "This is a great benefit to our patients."

Dr. England said while "there's very little I can do with the robot that I could not do with traditional laparoscopy, the da Vinci makes some procedures easier."

The big difference is the improved visualization deep in the pelvic area that the da Vinci's camera provides with its 3-D, HD view that is magnified 10 times.

From the point of view of a patient, however, what's really cool about robotic surgery is the reduced recovery time.

One of the earliest Deer Valley da Vinci hysterectomy patients, Jennifer Foster, went into the hospital around 6 a.m., was prepped for surgery around 7 a.m. and was up and walking around in her hospital room by 3 or 4 p.m., she said. She went home that evening before 6 p.m.

Dr. England said that time frame, being able to go home the same day as surgery, is true for about 50 percent of her patients.

"There's less trauma to tissue with the da Vinci," Dr. England said, "so there's faster healing and less scarring."

For Foster, the rapid healing meant she felt ready to go back to her job as a purchasing agent for a group of veterinary hospitals barely three weeks after her procedure, instead of waiting six to eight weeks before going back to work, the standard for hysterectomy patients who had open surgeries.

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"But Dr. England said I should wait four weeks," she added quickly, "so I'm going to be good and take the extra time."

"That's an issue with minimally invasive surgery," Dr. England said. "Patients feel better so soon after the surgery that they often need to be told they must wait to let their bodies finish healing before becoming active."

When using the da Vinci, while comfortably seated at the console, the surgeon's fingers grasp the master controls below the display, with hands and wrists naturally positioned relative to his or her eyes viewing a 10X magnified 3-D HD image of the surgical field.

The actual surgery is performed with a patient-side cart that has four interactive robotic arms that hold the camera and operating instruments.

The system seamlessly translates the surgeon's hand, wrist and finger movements into precise, real-time minimally invasive movements of laparoscopic surgical instruments inside the patient. This allows surgeons to perform complex procedures through 1-2 cm incisions.

Surgeons at Deer Valley are trained to use the surgical robot for general, gynecological and urological procedures.

Special Capabilities of the Deer Valley da Vinci Robotic Surgery System

The Deer Valley da Vinci is the only one in the state of Arizona with all of the following applications:

More Information

Learn more about minimally invasive surgery at John C. Lincoln at

  • SILS: Like its counterpart at North Mountain, the Deer Valley da Vinci has all of the attachments necessary for surgeons to perform single incision laparoscopic surgical cholecystectomies.
  • "Firefly" Fluorescent Imaging: The Deer Valley da Vinci camera is equipped with white and infrared lights. After an IV dye that binds with blood proteins is injected into the patient's bloodstream, healthy tissue fluoresces under IR light. The surgeon can switch from white to IR light to be sure their reconnection of blood vessels is successful and see whether blood is flowing appropriately.
  • Skill simulator: Similar to a flight simulator for pilots, this training module, a computer program and hardware, attaches to the surgical console and allows surgeons to practice their robotic skills, learn new techniques and measure their proficiency.
  • Vessel sealer: This is a new cauterizing attachment for the da Vinci's jointed EndoWrist® instrumentation that provides surgeons with greater operating flexibility than is possible with the natural range of motion of the human hand and wrist.

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