April 13, 2010
Nine-year-old Allison Matthews was back to playing basketball just a couple of weeks after she had surgery, thanks to James P. Tierney, DO and a skilled surgical team assisted by a high-tech surgical robot. Matthews underwent a pyeloplasty, which is done to remove a congenital obstruction of the ureter, the muscular tubes that propel urine from the kidneys to the urinary bladder. The procedure was done with the assistance of the da Vinci Surgical System, which is a laparoscopic surgical robot that allows for the use of smaller ports instead of a traditional large incision associated with many surgeries. This was the first pediatric robotic procedure performed at CAMC, and to the knowledge of Intuitive Surgical, the company that makes the da Vinci, the first in West Virginia. “This procedure, which involves cutting out the obstruction in the ureter and sewing it back together, would have traditionally been done with a large incision on the patient’s side. This would have made a more difficult recovery for the patient, and it would have left a significant scar,” said Marian Campbell, RNFA, robotics team leader for CAMC. The da Vinci Surgical System combines the latest advancements in robotics, computer enhanced technology and the skills of surgeons. The surgeon’s hands are at the control of this state-of-the-art robotic device and can perform the most complex and delicate procedures through very small incisions with unmatched accuracy. Instead of the traditional large incision associated with open surgery, small ports are placed in the patient’s abdomen, into which the arms of the surgical robot are inserted. The surgeon operates the arms at a console beside the patient. Additional members of the surgical team assist at the patient’s bedside. Allison’s mother, Debbie Matthews, said that her daughter’s recovery went very well. “I think it was better in that the actual healing process went quickly. It’s great when new technologies come out, especially for kids.” Having surgery definitely hasn’t slowed Matthews down. When asked about her plans for the next few months, she said “I’m ready to play softball!”

Back to Search