DERRY — A surgical robot works to remove a cancerous prostate from a patient in a nearby hospital. The robot moves through the body quickly and effortlessly, cauterizing tissue and moving organs aside like an assembly-line robot executing pre-programmed maneuvers.
Working nearby, not even needing to scrub in, is Andover, Mass., resident and doctor Sté©fanie Seixas-Mikelus, who works at Parkland Medical Center.
She peers at a three-dimensional video feed from inside the person's body as her arms and legs control a camera and light, three separate surgical instruments... and the life of her patient. Not even 24 hours later, that patient will walk out of the hospital with a prescription for pain medication that he might not even need to fill.
This is the future of surgery, and Seixas-Mikelus is one of six fellowship-trained, female urologic oncologists doing it in the United States.
"We deal with stones. We deal with urinary tract infection. We deal with the whole gamut of infections," Seixas-Mikelus said. "It's hard to appreciate without seeing the actual instrument."
Working out of Parkland and Andover Urology in Haverhill Street-based Doctors Park, Seixas-Mikelus is a recent transplant to Andover.
Last summer, she moved from New York state after completing a five-year residency at Buffalo's Roswell Park Cancer Institute. While there, she completed two years of surgery cases with the million dollar da Vinci surgical system.
"These days, people do better with robotic surgery by far," Seixas-Mikelus said.
Take, for example, the nerves that wrap around a prostate and provide for male potency. When the nerves are damaged or destroyed, the patient cannot achieve an erection. But with a surgical method that decreases blood loss and provides a much closer view of a the internal area, many things that would be lost can now be saved.