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MUSC Health Florence demonstrates robotic surgery to HopeHealth staff
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MUSC Health Florence demonstrates robotic surgery to HopeHealth staff

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FLORENCE, S.C. — Two of MUSC Health Florence’s robotic-qualified surgeons took their tools of trade to HopeHealth Wednesday to show what they can do with them and how patients benefit.

Doctors Hatem Abdallah and Karthik Tanneru had several of the demonstrator robotics on hand in one of HopeHealth Irby Street’s lobbies where they could be demonstrated and did a question-and-answer session with the staff there.

“That’s the mission of today, is to show them what we’re doing. Answer questions. Share that knowledge and let them know they don’t to leave town to get that level of care,” Abdallah, medical director of robotic surgery, said of the surgery robots installed at MUSC Health Florence.

“The robotic platform has been in use for over 20 years,” Abdallah said. “This is the latest iteration of it, the (Da Vinci) Xi, which has around for over five years now.”

“We have a unit like this in our OR currently,” he said. “We’ve been using it since March and we’ve done over 200 cases. There is myself and I have two general surgery partners — all three of us are robotic certified.”

“This allows me to do movements in an open fashion in a minimally invasive fashion,” Abdallah said.

It saves the patient the “big cut” while allowing the surgeon minimally invasive access to treat the patient, who might have many internal stitches but very few external stitches.

“Anytime you avoid potentially having to open a patient it absolutely does reduce infections,” Abdallah said. It improves your visualization. If you see better you’re less likely to bleed. If you bleed less you’re less likely to need a transfusion, less likely to get an infection.”

Time on the table is comparable to non-robotic surgery, he said.

“We do bariatric surgery, bypasses, colon resections, thoracic surgery — everything you can think of can be approached safely,” Abdallah said. “I did a gall bladder in 20 minutes the other day.”

Training to become robotic surgery certified take several years and includes work to learn suturing before practicing on cadavers and live pigs before operating under supervision on patients, he said.

Abdallah said he has years of training along with video reviews or his own surgeries along with those of other doctors.

“To me I look at robotics like flying a jet, it needs to be boring and it needs to be routine,” he said.

Abdallah said that not everybody is a good candidate for robotic surgery and that prospective patients’ general practitioners would know who might be a good candidate.

Abdallah said the patient’s recovery is what gives him the most satisfaction.

“That’s what gives me the most joy. I see my patients come back to clinic and say, ‘Doc, I get to go out and feed my grand kids or work in my garden.’ That’s what keeps me going. I really enjoy that.”

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