• 1233 North 30th Street, Billings, MT 59101
  • 406-237-7000

da Vinci Surgical Robot Saves St. Vincent Patient from Losing Kidney

January 12, 2011

Joetta Stocks was no stranger to surgery or health complications. After a recent diagnosis of cervical cancer, which resulted in a complete hysterectomy, Stocks thought she was on the mend and her health was improving. However, in the course of her post-hysterectomy medical follow-up, a new cancer was found in her kidney. St. Vincent Healthcare physician Dr. Lisa Malody referred Stocks to urologist Dr. Bradley Anderson.

Dr. Anderson identified the best treatment and surgical options for Stocks; he said, "Because we knew her kidney function was borderline, I ran a test to see how well each of her kidneys was working. Unfortunately, we discovered that the kidney with the tumor was actually her better kidney, and completely removing it would put her on the edge of needing dialysis. We knew we needed to do a partial nephrectomy at this point, even though the tumor was in a place in the kidney that was difficult to get at."

Dr. Anderson believed the da Vinci surgical robot at St. Vincent Healthcare provided the best option for her treatment, "A partial nephrectomy helps preserve kidney function by saving the part of the kidney that isn't involved with a tumor. It is a more difficult and potentially risky operation than is removing the entire kidney. It is particularly difficult to do in a laparoscopic, minimally invasive fashion. This tumor was in a position that wasn't easy to get at, and I was working in a tight space, so not only was it better than standard laparoscopy, the great visibility and the maneuverability of the small robotic instruments working in that tight space actually made it a better operation than could be done in an open fashion. And of course, recovery times are incredibly shorter than with an open procedure." Stocks said, "I was so amazed that robotic arms could perform surgery like this."

Several hours after her surgery, Stocks was up and walking laps around the hospital floor. "When I had my hysterectomy, the surgery left a large incision in my abdominal wall which was not only very painful but took me a very long time to recover," said Stocks. "St. Vincent Healthcare, Dr. Malody and Dr. Anderson were wonderful; everyone was so nice and helpful, accommodating my and my family's needs. I just feel the St. Vincent staff worked together in a way that benefited me the most and saved my life. " Within six weeks, Stocks was able to return to work full-time although she noted she felt much better and didn't have the extended pain or discomfort she'd previously had with open abdominal surgery.

da Vinci Surgery for kidney conditions uses the best techniques of open surgery and applies them to a robotic-assisted, minimally invasive approach. The precision and dexterity of the da Vinci Surgical System's advanced instrumentation provides for a minimally invasive approach to treating kidney disorders and kidney cancer.