New Robotic Surgical Innovation Helps Nurse Recover

Meagan Burch and her son.Meagan Burch and her son.Duke University Hospital recently performed a surgery using the new da Vinci SP® Single Port Surgical System by Intuitive Surgical, becoming one of only 15 medical sites in the country with the single port robot. Duke is also the first hospital in North Carolina to use this new innovation, which is currently only FDA approved for urologic and Ear, Nose, and Throat (ENT) surgeries.

Urologic surgeon, Michael Ferrandino, MD, who specializes in robotic procedures at Duke Cancer Institute, used the da Vinci SP Robot to perform a partial nephrectomy in June 2019.

This recent innovation in robotic surgery is linked to improved outcomes and a potentially quicker patient recovery. The procedure, which provides surgeons with robotic-assisted technology that inserts all surgical instruments through one small abdominal incision, allows for deep and narrow access to tissue in the body.

“We are excited to offer this new procedure to our patients,” said Ferrandino. “So far, reports are that recovery is compatible if not slightly improved over standard robotic surgery and hospitalization should be about one day. My hope is that with this new technology, we will be able to improve patient outcomes.”

His patient, 35-year-old nurse Meagan Burch, was excited about the one surgical entry option versus the four entries required in the traditional procedure.

“It’s summertime and our family loves to spend the weekends at the lake,” explained Burch. “I wasn’t too concerned about having a scar after surgery, but when Dr. Ferrandino presented me with the different options, I knew the new technique would be a great fit for my life. I love to be active and spend time outdoors, so being able to be up and walking the night after surgery was a gamechanger in my recovery process.”

In March 2019, Burch presented to her local hospital in Virginia with severe abdominal pain for a ruptured ovarian cyst. During routine imaging, clinicians also found a concerning mass on her kidney. They ordered an MRI to explore the incidental findings which confirmed early-stage kidney cancer. After a follow-up visit with her nurse practitioner, she was referred to Ferrandino at Duke.

“After meeting Dr. Ferrandino, I knew immediately that this was who I needed to help me beat my cancer,” said Burch. “He eased all my worries and concerns, and I trusted his surgical expertise when opting for this new procedure. The entire team has been wonderful throughout this process, and everyone was very helpful in explaining what to expect.”

In June, Burch underwent the partial nephrectomy, becoming the first patient in North Carolina to have the new innovative robotic approach. She spent one night recovering in the hospital before being discharged. In six months, she will undergo a CT scan to confirm the cancer did not metastasize. Afterwards, she will visit Duke once a year for routine scans.

“As a nurse, you are not used to being on the other side of the table. I cannot thank my family, friends and co-workers enough for supporting me through this diagnosis and procedure. It was nice to feel all the love, and that helped me to focus on recovering and beating this cancer,” stated Burch. “I’ve got a six-year old son and fellow nurses who depend on me, and I cannot wait to get back to my normal routine!”

As a leader in robotic surgery, Duke Urology specialists continue to study this new technology to identify its potential new roles in urologic cancer treatment. For more information, or to see if you would qualify for this procedure, please call 919-668-8108.