The personal injury attorneys at the Drug Law Center are currently evaluating and accepting cases from clients who have been injured from a da Vinci robotic surgery procedure.
What Is da Vinci Robotic Surgery?
Da Vinci robotic surgeries are minimally invasive procedures controlled by a trained surgeon working through a console attached to a tower. The surgeon operates on the patient from a seated position using system controls while viewing the surgical site through a high definition 3-D magnified view on a stereoscope monitor. The system is built with four robotic arms where three arms hold and operate various surgical instruments and the fourth holds numerous 3-D cameras. The surgeon can also control the device using a foot switch.
Robotic surgery options used to perform surgical procedures under complex situations have been utilized for over a decade. These procedures often involve colorectal surgery, cardiothoracic surgery, gynecologic surgery, general surgical procedures, ear, nose, and throat surgery, and urologic procedures. In recent years, surgeons have perfected knee and hip replacement surgery using computer assistance robots.
These types of procedures are typically performed in specialized operating rooms that have been dedicated to using da Vinci surgical systems. While these devices can ensure pinpoint accuracy that reduces trauma and expedites patient recovery, any mistake can become quickly magnified in scope if the surgeon lacks advanced skills in laparoscopic surgery or fails to fully control the device. The manufacturer of the surgical device states that “serious complications may occur in any surgery, including da Vinci surgery, up to and including death.”
History of the Da Vinci Robotic Surgery System
In 2000, the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) approved the use the da Vinci surgical system to assist surgeons performing complex surgeries including urology, gynecology, general surgery, thoracic surgery, and cardiac surgical procedures. Since then, more than 3 million patients have undergone minimally invasive surgical procedures using the device.
However, laparoscopic surgery techniques using robots have been used since the early 1980s. The technology became extremely popular in the 1990s were surgeons performed simple procedures. It was then that medical device manufacturers saw the potential of using robots to perform complex minimally invasive procedures. However, this required highly sophisticated mechanisms.
How the Robot Works
Advancements in robotic surgery have significantly improved laparoscopic (small incision) and minimally invasive surgeries where the surgeon utilizes computer-controlled robotic arms and hands for assistance. The multi-armed system can assist surgeons performing complex surgical procedures using tiny incision sites to enhance the surgeon’s control, flexibility, and accuracy. The performance of robotic surgery procedures using the surgical system involved:
- The operating room surgeon controls a computerized console fixed with miniaturized instruments securely fastened to multiple robotic arms;
- The surgery is performed using 3-D cameras attached to a robotic arm that provides a magnetized view of the surgical site that can be seen by the surgeons and others in the operating room;
- The robotic system transmits the surgeon’s wrist, hand, and finger movements from the system’s computer out to the robot’s arms, identically mimicking the surgeon’s range of motion at the surgical site;
- The procedure requires a surgical team to maximize the procedure’s positive outcome.
Who Undergoes da Vinci Robotic Surgery Procedures?
The most popular robotic surgical procedures performed by surgeons involve:
- Hysterectomies involving cancerous and benign uterus conditions
- Kidney surgeries in the treatment of kidney cancer including nephrectomy, partial nephrectomy, and nephroureterectomy that involves removal of the uterer and kidney
- Prostatectomy to treat urinary obstruction and prostate cancer
- Lung surgeries
- Cardiac surgeries involving robotic mitral valve repair
- Urologic reconstruction surgeries involving ureteral reconstruction, ureteral obstruction, pyeloplasty, sacrocolpopexy (uterine prolapse repair), uterine fibroids removal (myomectomy), and gender confirmation surgical procedures
- Endometriosis treatment
- Neck and head surgeries
Robotic Surgery Benefits
Due to the significant benefits the technology provides, many doctors recommend their patients undergo different types of surgeries using robots that perform minimally invasive procedures. Some of these benefits include:
- Shorter hospitalization time
- Diminished discomfort and pain
- Minimize scarring
- Smaller incision sites that reduce the potential risk of developing infections
- Quicker recovery to return to normal daily activities
- Minimal blood loss reducing the need for transfusions
- Fewer complications
- Better surgical outcomes
In addition, robotic surgery techniques help maximize surgical performance by utilizing the surgeon’s enhanced dexterity using console controls, greater visualization by viewing the procedure on large monitors and more accurate precision.
The surgeon has more control than traditional surgeries and a heightened sense of dexterity that allow the doctor to operate in inside the body that has previously become inaccessible without a long incision.
Da Vinci Robotic Surgery Complications
While many patients can see the obvious benefits compared to the risks involved in undergoing robotic surgery, there are severe negative outcomes and complications involved in minimally invasive surgery using robots.
Complications that can arise during the surgical procedure and afterward include:
- Increased risks associated with longer anesthesia and operating time
- Temporary tissue swelling caused by gas used during the procedure
- Short-term nerve damage because of operating table positioning
- Injuries or complications to the patient’s vision, larynx, or face when the patient is placed in an inverted position with the feet are higher than the head
- Injuries to blood vessels and organs caused by the surgical equipment or instruments
- blood pressure issues caused by gas absorption used during the procedure
- Fluctuating heart rates
- Post-surgical procedure shoulder pain
- Temporary discomfort and/or pain caused by the gas or air used during the surgical procedure
Hysterectomy Surgery Using Robots
Many doctors recommend the removal of the uterus (hysterectomy) through minimally invasive surgical procedures including those that use the da Vinci Robotic Surgical System. This is because successfully completed hysterectomies using the device cause fewer complications, minimize the potential need for a blood transfusion, produce significantly less blood loss than traditional surgeries and shorten the length of recovery and stay in the hospital.
When compared to traditional open surgery and laparoscopic surgery procedures, surgeons performing hysterectomies using the da Vinci robotic surgery system experience similar complications and operative times. However, there are risks and considerations before undergoing a hysterectomy using the device including the potential of the instrument causing injury to the ureters that drain kidney produced urine into the bladder. Other negative outcomes include developing bacterial skin infections, scar tissue in the vaginal incision (vaginal cuff problem), bladder injuries, vaginal shortening, urination problems, and clotting/pooling of blood.
The Medical Device’s Legal Problems
Many victims who have suffered serious harm after a da Vinci surgery robot procedure have made complaints and allegations against design flaws that have caused burns, and damaged healthy tissue and organs. Some of the complications and mistakes made by surgeons during these types of procedures have led to uterus lacerations, intestinal tearing, punctured organs and blood vessels, excessive bleeding, intense burns, and wrongful death.
In many of these cases, the patient was unaware of surgical complications that caused extensive injury until many days or months after the completion of the procedure. When the patients discover they have been injured through associated pain or diagnosis from their doctor, they often fight back by filing a lawsuit or claim for compensation against the device manufacturer. However, these cases are complex and often require the skills of a dedicated team of personal injury attorneys who specialize in medical malpractice, wrongful death, and product liability lawsuits.
Two of these da Vinci robotic surgical system lawsuits include:
- Da Vinci Robotic Surgery Lawsuit Claims the Device Caused Injury to a Mississippi Woman
June 2014 – Intuitive Surgical Inc. is facing one more da Vinci robot injury lawsuit, this time filed by Mississippi woman who alleged she sustained serious injuries after undergoing a da Vinci surgical system laparoscopic procedure. Lawsuit documents reveal that the plaintiff had complaints of gynecological issues, dysfunctional uterine bleeding, and pelvic pain. Her doctor recommended a cystoscopy and hysterectomy and provided materials and information that detailed the significant benefits of undergoing a da Vinci robotic hysterectomy compared to traditional surgical procedures. The plaintiff claims that she decided to undergo the da Vinci robot surgery in May 2012 based on the suggestion of her doctor and the information provided.However, by September 2012 the plaintiff required a revision surgery to treat her vaginal cuff dehiscence problem, where tissue or the organ splits open. Three months later in December, the vaginal cuff dehiscence recurred requiring one more reparative surgery because her bowel had protruded from her vagina. Attorneys working on behalf of the plaintiff filed the case seeking compensation for pain, fatigue, and the need to undergo more corrective surgeries. This case was filed in the U.S. District Court, Southern District of Mississippi, Northern Jackson Division.
- Intuitive Surgical Inc. Facing Another da Vinci Surgical System Injury Lawsuit
February 2014 – A Louisiana woman has filed a da Vinci surgical system injury lawsuit against Intuitive Surgical Inc. alleging that she sustained serious injuries after undergoing a procedure that uses the da Vinci surgical system. The plaintiff has made claims that she now suffers severe emotional and physical injury and financial distress caused by the damage she endured after her surgical procedure. Her attorneys have built the case claiming that the company failed to notify her or her physicians about the possible outcomes caused by surgical mistakes and stated that she would have made other choices including undergoing traditional surgery and she understood the risks involved.The plaintiff surgeons perform laparoscopic surgery. However, soon afterward she began feeling uncomfortable side effects that required a follow-up medical evaluation. It was then that the doctors discovered the complications that had arisen after the surgical procedure including severe tissue and muscle damage of organs in her lower pelvic area. Surgical intervention was required generating extensive medical bills. In addition, the plaintiff now suffers impaired ability during sexual intercourse. This case was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana.
Hiring an Attorney
The robotic surgical procedure injury case attorneys at the Drug Law Center are currently evaluating and accepting cases involving injuries caused by the da Vinci surgical robot device. Our law firm is proud of our legal achievements in fighting aggressively against medical device manufacturers and pharmaceutical companies. We provide personal attention and use our law firm’s reputation to negotiate the best settlement available or build a solid case to provide the evidence in front of a judge and jury.
If you, or a loved one, are suffering from torn or perforated organs, surgical burns, or damaged blood vessels caused by the da Vinci robotic surgery system, we can protect your legal rights. Contact us today to discuss your case for financial compensation. We offer free case evaluations and can provide you numerous legal options on the best way to proceed.
Should you decide to hire our team of dedicated attorneys, we will postpone your payment of our legal services until after we have successfully resolved your case through a negotiated settlement out of court, or as a jury trial award.
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