WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — The da Vinci robot at United Regional serves as an extension to the delicate hands of a surgeon, like OBGYN James Van Riper, DO.

“I tell my patients it’s like the best high definition TV you can see at Best Buy and that’s what I see on my console and you know I can’t even see that with my own eyes doing traditional surgery,” Dr. Van Riper said.

Dr. Van Riper and the da Vinci robot are old friends. He’s been using it to perform hysterectomies for over a decade.

“It’s changed everything, just from the ease of surgery, instead of standing during the whole case, now I can sit down at the console to operate the robotic system,” Dr. Van Riper said. “The ends of the instruments are articulated so it’s like using my own hands during traditional open surgery, but now it can be all done with laparoscopy and with the finesse of surgery where before it was more difficult.”

Dr. Van Riper is completely in control of the robot’s movements during the entire surgery.

“When I press my forehead into the control panel, it activates the machine and then I have control over the arms,” Dr. Van Riper said.

Through a robotic hysterectomy, Dr. Van Riper can remove the uterus and cervix to provide relief for some women troubled by abnormal bleeding, or pain.

“We look at someone’s quality of life, how much work is missed, how much of her own personal time is missed from her symptoms, and we use hysterectomy just to really better that,” Dr. Van Riper said. “So of course there are patients with tumors or some cancer that we can operate on, but the main thing is just to help the patient’s quality of life moving forward.”

The robot also helps with excision in those living with endometriosis.

“Endometriosis is where the lining of the uterus grows outside the uterus and the pelvis and when someone’s on their menstrual cycle that causes a significant amount of pain and those implants need to be excised,” Dr. Van Riper said. “So with the technology, with the da Vinci system, those areas can be first visualized and then excised from the wall of the pelvis which should help reduce or resolve her symptoms.”

The technology doesn’t just help during surgery either, some of its benefits are seen in the days following.

“Overall it’s just the comfort of being in their bed at home, of course we have the confidence of the system and the technology that the complications will be less and just overall I think less pain and quicker just return to normal functioning,” Dr. Van Riper said. “Just getting around, less pain, less narcotic use after surgery, and hopefully back to work as soon as possible.”

A faster way to bounce back with technology keeping United Regional at the forefront.
Most patients go home the same day.

Dr. Van Riper said despite what some people think, a traditional hysterectomy does not include removing the ovaries.