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Memphis surgeon explains the benefits of robotic surgery

Dr. Alan Hammond of St. Francis Hospital said he's been performing robotic surgeries since 2014 and that they are an "evolution in minimal-invasive surgery."

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Saint Francis Hospitals has the largest fleet of da Vinci XI robots in the city. There are four at Saint Francis Park and one at the Bartlett location.

Recently, Dr. Hammond completed his 1,000th robotic surgery at Saint Francis-Memphis.

“I’m the busiest general surgeon robotically in the city,” said Dr. Alan Hammond, General Surgeon with Saint Francis Hospital. “And I think I’m the first one in the city to hit 1,000.”

“So, I recently completed my 1000th robotic operation. I’ve been doing robotic surgery since 2014,” he continued. “I think it’s the coming wave in surgery.”

Dr. Hammond said a common misconception is that the robot is completely autonomous. The doctor said he is in full control, and the robot does nothing without him controlling it.

“With traditional surgery uses a larger incision to obtain access to the abdomen,” he said. “Robotic surgery is an evolution in minimal-invasive surgery, laparoscopic surgery, where you make sure a small incision and insert Instruments into the abdominal cavity to perform the operation.”

Dr. Hammond said robotic surgery makes things better for doctors in many ways.

“Robotic surgery gives you much greater freedom of movement with the instruments. They have a wristed motion rather than a simply open and close and rotational movement,” said Dr. Hammond. “The picture is in three dimensions because you have two cameras on the scope, and the magnification is 10 times. So, everything is crystal clear and bright and easy to see and the visualization is so much better than with laparoscopic surgery.”

One of Dr. Hammond’s patients said it made their procedure quick.

“I had a double hernia. That’s a hernia on the left side and the right side. I saw Dr. Hammond for that,” said Dr. Kays Nawaf. “The surgery started first thing in the morning at 7:30 and I was home before noon time.”

Dr. Hammond said it also makes recovery easier.

“A lot of them are surprised at how little pain medicine they required after the operation,” Dr. Hammond said. “Often they say they took pain medicine for a couple of days and they just stopped and converted to Tylenol or ibuprofen.”

“Pain wise, it was pleasantly very, very mild pain. I required only Tylenol for my post operative for two days and then that’s it,” said Dr. Nawaf.

At Saint Francis, the robot is always ready.

“We have 24-7 access to the robot at Saint Francis in Memphis and I don’t think any other hospital has robotic access at night or on the weekend,” said Dr. Hammond. “So, if you come in with an urgent or emergency situation, we can deal with that robotically in the off hours. Whereas, at other hospitals you would not be able to have that.”

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