On 1/26/2016, Dr. Brian Harkins from Tomball Regional Hospital spoke to the Magnolia Rotary Club about the state of Robotics in surgery. Pictured above is Dr. Brian Harkins.
Dr. Brian Harkins told everyone that he received his Doctor of Medicine from LSU Medical School in New Orleans where he graduated with the Dean's Award in 1989. He began his General Surgery Residency at Eisenhower Army Medical Center in Augusta, Georgia where he was selected as the Outstanding Laparoscopic Resident-Surgeon and also presented an award-winning scientific presentation for the American College of Surgeons, Georgia Chapter. Upon completion of his residency, he was a recipient of the Outstanding Graduating Resident Award. He also received the Army Commendation Medal for Meritorious Service as the Chief of the Department of Specialty Care at Noble Army Hospital. Presently, he has been a practicing physician for over 25 years and has experience with thousands of robotic, laparoscopic, and open surgeries. He has had advanced training in robotic and laparoscopic surgery and serves as a doctor for other surgeons. He has been a surgeon in Tomball, Texas since 1997 with thw Surgical Advanced Specialty Center. He has held multiple leadership roles among the hospital's medical staff and currently serves on the Board of Directors. He is a Board Certified General Surgeon and a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons.
Dr. Harkins provided a slide presentation where he talked about how far telephone technology has come in the last 30 years and said that robotic technology is on a similar path. In fact, medical robotics started in the 1980s, a little behind cell phone technology. The first actual robotics surgery occurred in 2000 but the robotics were crude and limited the surgeons freedom of hand motion. Improvements over the original robotics resulted in the Da Vinci S release in 2006. In 2009 the Da Vinci Si platform furthered propelled the success of the robotic surgery movement with ongoing transition of prostate surgery and malignant gynecological surgery to being almost completely done with the robotic platform. The advanced technology additions to the Da Vinci Si platform began to show promise in the adoption by general and colon and rectal surgical specialties. The “game changer” as many surgeons refer to it, was the release of the Da Vinci Xi platform in 2014. The surgeons console part of that system is seen below. In addition to the surgeons console, there is a patient cart and a vision cart.
 and a vision 
Dr. Harkins then talked about the 7 reasons why robotic technology is here to stay, but first pointed out that the surgical robots do not do anything unless the surgeon tells it to leaving the surgeon in total control through the entire surgery. The reasons are as follows based on today's medical technology:
1. Control of instruments - the surgeon now has full use of hand motion and can work on items as small as a dime.
2. Ergonomics - the surgeons console is extremely comfortable freeing the doctor from having to work in difficult positions for long periods of time.
3. Improved vision - the surgeon is now totally immersed in a 3d field.
4. Integration of Firefly technology - the surgeon is now able to see blood vessels highlighted in color thanks to a dye given to the patient prior to the surgery.
5. Improvements in robotic instruments - the new instruments are smaller and allow the surgeon multiple use of instruments at the same time.
6. Improved acceptance of minimally invasive surgery - more and more minor surgeries and being done with medical robotics.
7. Improved patient outcomes - patients are now able to leave a hospital after surgery earlier and with less pain.
Dr. Harkins also told everyone that more and more medical schools are now requiring knowledge of medical robotics as part of their medical degree. Also, although insurance is always behind in paying for new technology, the data is starting to prove that robotic technology is not only cost effective but improves patient outcomes, therefore more and more robotic medical procedures are being covered.
Dr. Harkins told everyone that heart surgery is a little behind general robotics surgery but is rapidly coming on line as technology improves.
For more information on robotic surgery, visit Dr. Harkins web site at: www.drbrianharkins.com.