Surgeons at the Keck Medical Center of USC became the first in California to use the latest minimally invasive surgical system for prostate cancer when they performed a robotic-assisted procedure in July.

The surgery further cements the Los Angeles-based university hospitals’ position as a global center of excellence for robotic surgery.

The procedure used the new Xi robot that gives surgeons greater dexterity, precision and ability to remove cancerous tissue in all quadrants of the abdomen and chest because of its smaller arms.

In addition, surgeons have a larger operating field in which to work, leading to better maneuverability without having to reposition the robot as frequently throughout the procedure. For patients, robotic surgery, when appropriate, provides a minimally invasive treatment choice that often leads to smaller incisions (less than one inch), less pain and less need for medication, minimal scarring, reduced bleeding, shorter hospital stays and a faster recovery time to return to normal daily routines.

The new da Vinci Xi Surgical System robot created by Intuitive Surgical was approved by the Food and Drug Administration on April 1. Using the Xi robot, Keck Medicine of USC urologic surgeon Inderbir S. Gill, MD, MCh, founding executive director of the USC Institute of Urology and professor and chair of the Department of Urology, removed a man’s prostate.

“We perform more robotic surgeries than any other hospital in the metro Los Angeles area, and that is a direct reflection of our surgical expertise and our staying one step ahead by having the latest robotic technology available,” said Scott Evans, PharmD, MHA, CEO of Keck Hospital of USC and USC Norris Cancer Hospital.  “For patients, the fact we have the most technologically advanced equipment is compelling, but it is really about the surgeons operating these machines that brings comfort and confidence to those who need expert treatments for the most complex diseases. It is similar to driving a Ferrari — instead of a teenager at the wheel, we offer the world’s most expert drivers who have vast experience with sophisticated machines.”

Keck Medical Center of USC is a global training ground for urologic procedures. For the past five years, more than 100 urological surgeons, nationally and internationally, have visited the USC Institute of Urology to learn advanced robotic procedures from USC’s urological robotic surgeons.

Gill, who also is associate dean of clinical innovation at the Keck School of Medicine of USC, and his team comprising of Mihir Desai, MD, and Monish Aron, MD, have pioneered many novel procedures at the USC Institute of Urology, including removal of a cancerous bladder and construction of a new one totally within the body; and robotic removal of tumors inside the inferior vena cava. The USC Institute of Urology, ranked No. 20 in urology in this week’s U.S. News & World Report’s 2015 “Best Hospitals” rankings, boasts the nation’s fastest growing robotic urology program.

“The Xi surgical system is an evolution of our robotic surgical prowess,” said Desai, professor of urology and director of urological robotic surgery. Aron, professor and vice chair, department of urology added, “This is another example of how we continue to lead the field on latest surgical techniques.”

“Because of our reputation as a center for excellence in robotic surgery, patients come to USC for treatment from all over the world,” Gill added. “In addition, we are at the forefront of training other physicians from around the globe on these machines and in the latest robotic surgery techniques because we are committed to pushing the envelope of what is best for patients everywhere.”

— By Leslie Ridgeway