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da Vinci robot joins Saskatchewan surgery team

It’s a first in Saskatchewan as the da Vinci robotic surgical system is now operational at St. Paul’s Hospital in Saskatoon.

The system which was first available for surgeries in the States in the 2000s has been in Edmonton since about 2007.

At a cost of about $2.5 million, it marks the successful completion of the St. Paul’s Hospital Foundation capital campaign with $1.5 million being raised by the Foundation. The funds include a $1.1 million gift from the Merlis Belsher family. The robot is affectionately named “Daryl” in honour of Merlis Belsher’s late son.

Already, procedures like a prostatectomy (surgery for the partial or complete removal of the prostate gland), nephrectomy (surgery to remove all or part of a kidney), pyeloplasty (surgery to remove a blockage involving the kidney) and cystectomy (surgery to remove all or part of the urinary bladder) have been performed. Plans are underway to expand gynecology oncology, thoracic surgery and other specialties in the future, say health officials.

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“The ability to offer robotic surgeries can help improve healing and recovery times, as well as reduce pain, bleeding and the risk of infection,” says Saskatchewan Health Authority head of surgery Dr. Ivar Mendez. “I am pleased to be integrating this world-class technology in our operating rooms to help Saskatchewan residents,” he adds.

A video of the operation of the da Vinci robotic system with testimonies from patients may be viewed online.

The Government of Saskatchewan provided $1 million to help fund the purchase of the da Vinci Surgical System and has committed to cover annual operational expenses estimated at $160,000 in year one and increasing to almost $800,000 by year five.

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