It didn't take much to convince Amy Simmons to allow her doctor to use the da Vinci® Robotic Surgical System to perform her hysterectomy - and one of the biggest reasons was that just a few months before, her husband, Art, had undergone a prostatectomy using the intricate surgical tool.
Art and Amy Simmons became perhaps the first husband and wife to undergo surgical procedures at Via Christi Hospital since da Vinci's surgical system became an option for patients.
The da Vinci system requires only a few small incisions — about the size of small puncture wounds — instead of one long one, allowing for a much less invasive surgery and faster recovery. Tiny robotic arms, equipped with cameras and compact surgical instruments, are positioned over the patient while the surgeon sits nearby at a console, using hand and foot controls to direct the robotic arms' movements. A monitor offers a magnified view of the surgery site.
The magnified view also benefits the surgeon. "I see 100 percent better than I did before," said Michael P. Brown, MD, who performed Amy Simmons' surgery. "And I can magnify areas, which I wasn't able to do with my own two eyes."
When Art Simmons heard the benefits of using the da Vinci system for his procedure, he didn't need much persuading either. About half of prostatectomies each year in this country are done with da Vinci.
"But I needed to be able to become a candidate," Art Simmons said. His urologist, A.J. Farha, MD, told Simmons he would have to first take hormones to become eligible.
"Dr. Farha said it was the largest one he'd ever removed with this procedure," Simmons explained. "I really commend him for doing this surgery because it takes such skill."
For the Simmonses, having a minimally invasive surgery with a faster recovery time was ideal.
"That was one of the greatest things - that I could get out of bed and not be on pain pills and get back to work," said Art Simmons, who missed only two days of work as a quality assurance manager at a local aircraft supplier.
For Amy Simmons, getting back to her life with less recovery time was essential as she was spearheading plans to celebrate their daughter's high school graduation and the move back to their home state of Texas.
"Plus having had two C-sections already, I knew all about having a 5½-inch incision," Amy Simmons said.