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For Immediate Release:
January 8, 2013

Robotic-assisted surgery is coming to St. Luke's Hospital this winter

Public invited to "test drive" the da Vinci robot at open house on January 16

Dennis LaRock, MD, a urologist with Southcoast Physicians Group and Chair of Southcoast's Robotics Committee, and Derek Hausladen, MD, a Dartmouth urologist, with the da Vinci surgical robot.

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NEW BEDFORD, Mass. — Southcoast™ Health System today announced it will open a robotic surgical program this winter at St. Luke's Hospital in New Bedford. The da Vinci® Si™ Surgical System will allow highly skilled surgeons to perform robotic-assisted, minimally invasive procedures with great precision and expertise.

The addition of the da Vinci elevates the surgical program at St. Luke's to one of the most advanced in the region and increases the scope of surgical services available to patients of Greater New Bedford and Wareham.

St. Luke's will be hosting a public open house with the da Vinci "robot" on Wednesday, January 16, from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the main lobby on the mezzanine level. The public is welcome to see the da Vinci close up and actually sit at the controls and "test drive" the technology.

Southcoast is the only provider in the region to offer da Vinci robotic-assisted surgery with availability at both Charlton Memorial Hospital in Fall River and now at St. Luke's Hospital.

The da Vinci at St. Luke's is an alternative to open surgery and laparoscopic surgery and can result in quicker recoveries for patients. Common procedures that will be performed using the da Vinci system include complex urological surgeries, such as radical prostatectomies, and gynecological procedures, such as hysterectomies. Southcoast has plans to expand the service to include general surgical procedures, such as single-site gallbladder removal and colorectal surgeries.

"Southcoast continues to broaden the range of services offered throughout our region and is dedicated to providing comprehensive surgical services that use the latest technology throughout all of the Southcoast sites," said Richard Miller, MD, Physician-in-Chief for Surgery at Southcoast Health System. "The addition of the da Vinci at St. Luke's further expands our growing surgical program to include the latest minimally invasive surgery options for our patients."

The new da Vinci at St. Luke's Hospital brings a second da Vinci robot to Southcoast Health System, adding to the recently updated robot located at Charlton Memorial Hospital in Fall River. The addition of the robot at St. Luke's makes the Southcoast Robotic Surgery Program the most comprehensive and advanced robotic program in the region.

Robotic-assisted surgery

da Vinci's advanced level of technology takes surgery beyond the limits of the human hand. The da Vinci Si technology is designed to give surgeons more precision and control during complex, minimally invasive procedures. It is an alternative to open surgery and laparoscopic surgery and can result in quicker recoveries for patients. The entire surgery is performed through tiny incisions typical of minimally invasive surgery — and the surgeon is 100 percent in control at all times. Members of the Southcoast surgical staff will receive special training to assist the surgeons with this new technology.

"Southcoast is very pleased to provide the Greater New Bedford and Wareham area surgeons with the latest equipment they need to practice locally while helping them provide the best possible outcomes for their patients," said Dennis LaRock, MD, a urologist with Southcoast Physicians Group and Chair of Southcoast's Robotics Committee.

"The addition of a second da Vinci Si robot to the Southcoast system and our region overall helps provide even more of our patients with the benefit of having this advanced type of surgery close to home, alleviating the burden of leaving the region for services," said Dr. LaRock, who has been performing surgery using the da Vinci since 2008.

The da Vinci Si Surgical System "robot" is a state-of-the art medical device comprised of a surgeon console and patient-side robotic system with a high-resolution camera and micro-instruments. The system is equipped with several "arms" that scale the movements of the surgeon's hands and arms down to micro-movements for delicate precision. The surgeon "drives" the instruments using a high-resolution 3-D endoscope and image processing equipment, which provide the true-to-life, highly magnified 3-D images of the surgical field.

Complex urological surgeries

Approximately 30 percent of prostate cancer patients in the U.S. are treated with surgery. The surgery is called a radical prostatectomy and there are three methods: open surgery where a large incision approximately four to six inches is made in the abdomen and two minimally invasive types — laparoscopic and robotic-assisted laparoscopic, also known as da Vinci Prostatectomy.

Greater New Bedford has a higher incidence of prostate cancer than the state average. There were 897 cases of prostate cancer diagnosed in 2009 in the Greater New Bedford region. The new da Vinci at St. Luke's Hospital will provide another option of treatment for patients East of Westport including the Wareham and Cape Cod region.

"The da Vinci offers patients considerable benefits to a delicate procedure, including smaller incisions, less pain, a shorter hospital stay and faster recovery. There is less scarring and in most cases a quicker return to normal activities," said Derek Hausladen, MD, a Dartmouth urologist who has been performing da Vinci Prostatectomies at Charlton Memorial since 2008 and plans to use the da Vinci at St. Luke's.

"The technological advancements of the da Vinci Si Surgical System provide surgeons with unparalleled precision, dexterity and control that enable a minimally invasive approach for many complex surgical procedures," Dr. Hausladen said. "Being able to offer this technique in New Bedford is a greater benefit to my local patients."

Surgeons from across the region who have received the proper training on the da Vinci Si Surgical System are welcome to practice at St. Luke's and Charlton Memorial hospitals.

Southcoast Health System opened its robotic surgical program in 2008 with the installation of its first da Vinci Surgical System at Charlton Memorial Hospital in Fall River. Today Charlton offers various types of robotic-assisted surgeries including gall bladder removal surgery, radical prostatectomies, gynecological procedures and colorectal surgeries. Southcoast also offers a wide range of minimally invasive laparoscopic surgeries.

For more information on robotic and other minimally invasive surgeries at Southcoast, visit

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Stephanie Poyant
Public Information Officer
Phone: 508-961-5280
Pager: 508-387-2532
Fax: 508-961-5876

Southcoast Health System is a community based health delivery system with multiple access points, offering an integrated continuum of health services throughout Southeastern Massachusetts and East Bay, Rhode Island.

It includes the three hospitals that make up Southcoast Hospitals Group — Charlton Memorial Hospital in Fall River, St. Luke's Hospital in New Bedford and Tobey Hospital in Wareham.

Southcoast provides advanced clinical services, such as open heart surgery, angioplasty and heart rhythm services, comprehensive cancer care, neurosurgery, weight loss surgery, orthopedic surgery, advanced imaging services and is the only provider of maternity services in the region.

Southcoast is a not-for-profit charitable organization that depends on the support of the community to provide services. More information is available online at Connect to Southcoast through social media at

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