UAB surpasses 20,000 robotic surgeries milestone, looks to future of continued surgical care
In early 2023, the University of Alabama at Birmingham crossed an impressive surgical threshold: UAB surgeons across 15 medical disciplines surpassed more than 20,000 robotic surgeries completed at UAB Hospital since UAB Medicine began performing robotic surgery in 2004. With this milestone, UAB remains a leader in robotic surgery volume across the country, while offering patients unmatched minimally invasive, quality surgical care.
“For UAB surgeons to collectively surpass 20,000 robotic surgeries completed in our hospitals reflects the level of training and care that patients have access to at UAB Hospital,” said Dawn Bulgarella CEO of the UAB Health System. “This impressive milestone is a testament to the joint commitment made by our many faculty and staff to make UAB a leader in robotic surgery volume in the nation, all while continuing to provide unmatched patient care and outcomes.”
What is even more remarkable is that 10,000 of UAB’s 20,000 cumulative robotic surgeries occurred in the five-year span since 2018, when the hospital celebrated its 10,000th robotic surgery; it took 12 years for UAB surgeons to accomplish the first 10,000 procedures, and notably many of the second 10,000 surgeries took place during the height of the COVID pandemic and ongoing constraints in health care access.
UAB leading the way
At UAB Hospital each year, 2,300 robotic surgeries are performed using the daVinci robot, including a variety of more than 100 types of procedures. Of note, UAB has 10 Intuitive Surgical robots, including seven XI dual console robots, two SP robots and one ION robot. Robotic surgery offers patients a surgical alternative that typically includes smaller incisions, shorter hospital stays, less postoperative pain and a quicker return to normal function.
Robotic surgery is a cornerstone in many disciplines at UAB, including urology, cardiothoracic surgery, gynecologic oncology, general surgery, otolaryngology, head and neck surgery, endocrine surgery, and surgical oncology, as well as women’s reproductive health. Rather than focusing efforts on select specialties, the well-rounded approach cultivated at UAB promotes cross-collaboration among surgeons and has helped UAB push the envelope with technology afforded to patients seeking surgical care.
As UAB is the only American College of Surgeons-verified Level I Trauma Center in the state of Alabama and home to the only National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center located in a four-state area in the O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center, the level of skill and training needed to effectively complete robotic surgeries complements the type of care and precision that is expected by patients when deciding to seek surgical care at UAB Hospital.
In accomplishing the 20,000 robotic surgeries completed at UAB, six surgeons impressively have performed more than 1,000 cases independently:
- Benjamin Wei, M.D. – Thoracic Surgery
- Clifton Lewis Sr., M.D. – Cardiac Surgery
- Jamie Cannon, M.D. – Colorectal Surgery
- Jeffrey Nix, M.D. – Urological Surgery
- John Porterfield Jr., M.D. – Gastrointestinal Surgery
- Michael Straughn, M.D. – Gynecologic Surgery
“Reaching this monumental achievement at UAB is a wonderful reminder of each of the patients treated and the lives touched through the last 20,000 robotic surgeries performed on our campus,” said Herbert Chen, M.D., Fay Fletcher Kerner Endowed Chair of the Department of Surgery. “Our commitment to continued training and investment in the best technologies empowers our surgical faculty and staff to deliver the best outcomes possible for our patients.”
In looking forward to what the future of robotic surgery looks like, surgeons and administrators alike are eager to continue a standard of excellence that positively impacts patient care and keeps UAB as a leader in the field.
“What we’ve been able to collectively accomplish with regard to robotic surgery at UAB has set a standard in this field, and it’s been tremendously rewarding to be a part of this milestone with surgeons from so many distinct disciplines,” said Nix, director of Robotic Surgery at UAB and associate professor in the Department of Urology. “In looking forward at the next five, 10 years, we have already set quite a benchmark at UAB for excellence in robotic surgery, and I anticipate that not only will we cross comparable milestones more quickly, but we will be able to expand upon the surgical offerings we can provide to patients. We’re committed to keeping UAB as a leader in robotic surgery and have high expectations for our continued success as an institution.”
Source: UAB News