BBC Surgical Robotics Programs Reach Major Milestone - Bronson Healthcare

Published on March 18, 2013

BBC Surgical Robotics Programs Reach Major Milestone

Robotic Surgery

Less than 25 years ago, surgical robotics was an idea on paper; 10 years later it was a little more than a curiosity. Today, it is considered ‘cutting-edge’ treatment for surgery departments committed to giving their patients the latest options in healthcare technology.

This past month, the Bronson Battle Creek (BBC) surgery program reached a major milestone by celebrating its 1,000 robotic surgery case. Dr. Tammy Gleeson, a board-certified thoracic surgeon performed the procedure on February 12 on Rick Mears of Union City, Michigan. The surgery was called left video-assisted thoracoscopy robot-assist with diagnostic lung nodule/wedge resection. In simple English, it means a special fiber-optic scope and mini TV camera were inserted into the chest to assist the surgeon in removing a triangular-shape piece of tissue from the lung.

The tissue is removed so a diagnosis can be made as to whether or not the patient has metastatic disease from his cancer, which then leads to further treatment options from an oncologist.

Mears, district manager for Beck’s Hybrid Seeds, spoke highly of the procedure having had a traditional cancer surgery in the past. “My doctor in Coldwater referred me to Bronson Battle Creek for this operation. I came in to the hospital on Tuesday and was out on Wednesday,” he said. “I have to tell you, thanks to this daVinci surgery, I was back to my normal routine in a matter of days with very little pain.

“My business territory covers all of Michigan, so as you can imagine, I was extremely pleased that I was able to bounce back so quickly,” Mears continued. “If I have to have an operation on my other lung some time down the road, I will definitely come back to Bronson Battle Creek and have them use the robotic surgery again.”

“Robotic surgeries, especially thoracic ones (dealing with the chest and lungs), have proven to be very helpful to our patients,” added Dr. Gleeson. “I continue to promote minimally invasive surgery to give my patients the quickest recovery time and the safest and best long-term outcomes as possible.”

When asked about what it was like performing the 1,000th robotic procedure, Dr. Gleeson said, “As a member of the robotics team at BBC; I was both excited and honored to learn that this case was marked a major milestones for our surgery department. I must also add that I very much enjoy working with such a fantastic group of people. Each member is committed to making certain that our patients receive the right care at the right place and at the right time—every time.”

Bronson Battle Creek, in its long-standing effort of bringing high-tech choices to its physicians and patients, installed its first da Vinci®; ‘S’ with HD™; robotic surgery system in 2008. The unit is named after Leonardo da Vinci, the inventor of the robot, and the person who is considered the first to use three-dimensional anatomical accuracy in his detailed masterpieces.

This surgery platform uses a small camera that is inserted through very small incisions to magnify the surgery site, which enhances the surgeon's hand and wrist movements offering more dexterity, versatility, and precision.

Even though it is referred to as a robotic surgery, the system cannot be programmed nor can it make decisions or incisions on its own. The da Vinci system requires a highly trained and skilled surgeon to perform every surgical maneuver.

Last year, BBC introduced an upgraded version of daVinci®; Si with high definition (HD). This newer version of daVinci uses a ‘single’ site incision for gallbladder surgeries instead multiple incisions making the surgery site even less invasive.

The da Vinci ‘Si’ HD surgical system integrates a three-dimensional, high definition endoscopy and robotic technology to virtually extend the surgeon’s eyes and hands into the surgical field.

The da Vinci ‘Si’ HD surgical system provides physicians with such enhanced detail and precision that it can simulate an open surgical environment while operating through just one tiny incision instead of three or four. The single incision also makes for a nearly invisible scar for surgeries where the physician makes a cut around the patient’s umbilical cord (belly button).

For the patient, all of this means a surgery that is less painful, and has less blood loss, which in turn translates into less need for blood transfusions. In other words, patients have smaller incisions, which often heal faster after surgery. In the end, it offers potentially shorter hospital stays, quicker recoveries, and faster returns to normal daily activities.

As to the future of robotics surgery, “New equipment is coming out every year that add new capabilities to our robotic procedures,” concluded Dr. Gleeson. We also continue to refine our robotic approaches to surgery to give our patients the safest and most accurate results.”

On a scale of one to 10, with 10 being how pleased I was with the hospital and this surgery, I would say Bronson Battle Creek was close to a 10,” Mears concluded. “Everyone made this experience a positive. The doctors, nurses, and staff, even the food was great.”

Bronson Battle Creek currently has more multi-trained, board-certified surgeons using the daVinci robotic surgical systems than any other facility in southwest Michigan. The robotic technology at BBC is being used in thoracic, colorectal, gynecological, urological surgeries, and in more general surgeries such as gallbladder removal.

For more information about BBC’s robotic and general surgery programs, please visit:, or call Bronson Battle Creek Surgery:

General Information (269) 245-5854

Minimally Invasive Surgery – daVinci ®; Surgical Robotics Services (269) 245-8106.

To initiate a referral, contact (269) 245-8666

Bronson Battle Creek is a 218-bed hospital that provides full outpatient and inpatient acute care including robotic surgery, diagnostics, and rehabilitation services; 100% all private rooms. It also offers world-class diagnostic capabilities including PET/CT imaging, freestanding ‘open’ and traditional MRI, CT (16- and 64-slice), and 3.0 Tesla MRI. Bronson Battle Creek has been recognized nationally as one of the safest hospitals, and has been a leader in the development of electronic health records as evidenced by multiple honors as one of America’s ‘most wired’ and ‘most wireless’ hospitals. The Commission on Cancer of the American College of Surgeons recognizes the Bronson Battle Creek Cancer Care Center as a Comprehensive Community Cancer Program, and the only hospital in Michigan to receive the CoC’s Outstanding Achievement Award three times in a row. Specialty services include inpatient behavioral health, the county’s largest accredited sleep center, and a wound-healing center with hyperbaric oxygen therapy. For nine years, Bronson Healthcare has been included on Working Mother magazine’s 100 Best Companies list as a leading family friendly employer.