Robotic Surgery

My name is Brian DeCosta Gill, I’m an MD, and I’m board certified general surgeon and I practice in Utah Countyat Timpanogos Regional Hospital. Technologies I’m really excited about involve the use of the robots to improve minimally invasive general surgery procedures. For a long time, ever since the late 1980s, general surgeons have been using the keyhole approach or laparoscopic to many procedures of the abdomen.

Starting in the early 2000s, the da Vinci robot came on scene and became available. At first it was searching for a place in general surgery. I was excited about the technology because the robot truly allows us to do things through smaller incisions with more precision than we can do with our hands or with a laparoscope and the laparoscopic instruments. And yet, there just wasn’t a huge national upsurge of general surgery procedures, because general surgery procedures on the guts can be very complicated.

The intestines are not always in the same place,they can move. So we looked for something that we could really apply it to. My own specialty training involved work on the esophagus and stomach with one of the originators or the pioneers of gastroesophageal reflux disease, Dr.  Lucius Hill. I trained with him in Seattle, learned how to do the procedure that’s named after him and was very excited about that technology, but it required open surgery.

That was right when the laparoscopic era began and so most of the surgeries done were not the Hill procedure. The technology was kind of lost, or his advances were lost as we took on the laparoscopic approach. But then, with the advent of the robot, I’m now able to apply what I learned through open surgery decades ago, and do it through minimally invasive techniques using the robot. I feel this is really unique to us here, in this area, because of my training with Dr.  Hill. The gap of 20 years when most surgeons weren’t doing this and now the ability to use the increased technology of the robot to apply the old principles to the new minimally invasive procedure.