The days of having to travel out of town for a specialized surgery are in the past. The Valley is quickly becoming a hub for medical innovation and modern technology, as evidenced by its use of the da Vinci Surgical Systems across local hospitals.
Da Vinci systems are robots that assist surgeons in performing a procedure in a minimally invasive manner. Operations are possible with just one or a few small incisions; the surgeon is in control and simply guides the equipment.
Board-Certified in both OBGYN & Minimally Invasive Gynecological Surgery (MIGS) and Director at DHR Health Women’s Hospital Institute for Robotic Surgery, Dr. Rene I. Luna uses the da Vinci to perform surgeries, including hysterectomies, myomectomies, cystectomies, and sacrocolpopexy and touts its benefits.
“It allows me to complete surgery through tiny 8-millimeter incisions,” he said. “The patient has minimal to no pain, they can go home the same day of the surgery, and there is less blood loss and fewer complications.”
He said women are also relieved because they are not left with a large scar.
While there are clear advantages for women who need to undergo an operation, Dr. Luna said due to their vital roles in the workforce and home life, the community also reaps benefits.
“Their mom, sister, grandmother, wife, can all undergo their surgical health needs efficiently and get back to their daily functions within a week or two, whereas (through traditional surgery) it would typically take six to eight weeks, so it’s a huge difference,” he said.
In addition to his regular practice, Dr. Luna serves as a national proctor and instructor for da Vinci-assisted surgery. He travels around the country to train other physicians interested in learning how to operate with the da Vinci robot.
“It allows us to do any type of surgery we used to do traditionally in the most advanced way with the smallest footprint possible — while still achieving the goal of curing any surgical need for the patient,” he said. “This is as good as it gets anywhere in the world.”
According to Dr. Luna, DHR Health Women’s Hospital has two of the latest da Vinci Xi machines. And with his experience and expertise, the hospital is also in the beginning phases of becoming an epicenter case observation site for the use of the da Vinci in gynecological surgeries. This would mean in addition to Dr. Luna traveling the country to demonstrate the robot to other surgeons, they would be able to visit the RGV themselves for training in gynecological surgeries.
In May, he hosted his first surgeon at the hospital interested in learning the process.
“We are showing Texas, the country, and the world that we are leaders in this type of surgery,” he said. “Our leaders and expertise can do the same thing as a medical center in Houston, San Antonio, or Dallas. We rival them and can operate on the same level, or better.”
“Everyone can operate using a robot, but we do it the best,” he said. “It’s a passion of mine I learned long ago, and I continue to want to perfect my craft.”
Senior Clinical Sales Representative for Intuitive Kevin Mitchell said due to a high percentage of RGV residents having underlying health conditions, the machine is especially beneficial.
“When you consider our population tends to have more comorbidities, such as diabetes and hypertension, the last thing you want to do for those patients if you don’t have to is do an open procedure,” he said. “What this technology is allowing these surgeons to do is what they normally do with their great ability, just to a higher level.”
Part of how the da Vinci takes procedures to a higher level is it gives doctors a better, clearer look by offering magnified, HD 3-D views of the surgical area and state of the art hand and wristed instruments.
In addition to gynecology, the da Vinci can also be used for procedures in urology, cardiac, colorectal, general, thoracis, and head and neck surgeries.
“I truly believe our community deserves the best when it comes to patient care,” Mitchell said. “As we continue to grow, we continue to get new options for our patients. We truly have phenomenal surgeons out here in the RGV doing amazing things for our patients.
“You don’t necessarily have to leave the Valley to get amazing care.”
Rene I. Luna, M.D., P.A.
Address: 501 E Savannah Ave, McAllen, TX 78503, United States