Medical First Performed in Lufkin

Memorial hospital urologist, Dr. Odell Dean, performed a prostatectomy Wednesday morning in Lufkin. It wasn't the first prostate removal for the 16-year surgeon, but it was a medical milestone. Dr. Dean did the procedure using the DA Vinci High Definition Surgical System; the first robotic procedure in Texas.

Marilyn Phillips, director of surgical services, said, "In the beginning we are coming up with urology services such as prostatectomies, we'll also move into hysterectomies and cardiac surgery."

The robot does not actually perform the surgery, but makes every surgical maneuver with direct input from the doctor. During a prostatectomy, many nerves can be damaged and there is a risk of impotency and bladder problems. The da Vinci robot lowers those risks.

Dr. Dean said, "Not everybody is an ideal candidate. Men that are too heavy and that have some problem that doesn't allow them to have the carbon dioxide gas [will not qualify], but mostly 98 percent [of patients] probably could have it done that way."

Dr. Dean's first robotic patient is a veteran who came from Houston for medical treatment in Lufkin. He actually researched the robotic procedure before his surgery and even put off having his prostate removed until Memorial got the device. Because of the less invasive method, he will be released Friday instead of in a week.

"It's much less pain," said Dr. Dean. "Patients go home after an overnight stay in the hospital. The view is much better than the human eye can provide [and] the blood loss is minimal. The long term survival from cancer is much improved as a result of the procedure."

Dr. Dean will perform the state's second robot-assisted surgery Friday. The new method may cost patients a little more, but it should allow them to return to work and get back to a regular schedule sooner.