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Robotic Surgery Comes to West Kendall Baptist Hospital

An advanced robotic surgery system recently installed at West Kendall Baptist Hospital is slated to go into action today, when surgeons perform three surgical procedures using the equipment.

The da Vinci Si system combines the benefits of minimally invasive surgery, meaning fewer and smaller incisions, with the incredibly detailed movements of computer-guided equipment. Surgeons worldwide use the da Vinci robot on patients diagnosed with many complex conditions, including cancers of the prostate, cervix, uterus, lung, colon and rectum, as well as heart disease and fibroid tumors.

“The da Vinci system installation is a very significant investment in the health of our West Kendall community,” said Javier Hernández-Lichtl, CEO of West Kendall Baptist Hospital. “Our goal is to provide our patients with the least invasive, most precise surgical options available, allowing them to get back to their everyday activities as quickly as possible.”

During a da Vinci procedure, the surgeon is in complete control of the robotic-assisted system, which translates the surgeon’s hand movements into smaller, highly precise movements of tiny instruments inside the patient’s body. The da Vinci’s system also features a magnified, 3-D, high-definition vision system that enables the surgeon to operate with greatly enhanced vision and precision. In the past decade, surgeons using the da Vinci surgical system have performed more than 1.5 million operations worldwide.

In today's demonstration of the da Vinci Si’s versatility, four West Kendall Baptist Hospital robotic surgery specialists will perform three surgical procedures using the equipment:

  • Julio Arronte, M.D. – Hysterectomy
  • Omar Llaguna, M.D., and Charan Donkor, M.D. – Hernia Repair
  • Troy Gatcliffe, M.D. – Ovarian Cystectomy

“The da Vinci equipment allows us to operate through a single or multiple tiny incisions – only half an inch long, in some cases – instead of one large opening,” said Ricardo Estape, M.D., medical director of Baptist Health’s Center for Robotic Surgery. “Because the incisions are so small, they cause less trauma to the body. Patients tend to have less discomfort, fewer infections, shorter hospital stays and quicker recovery times than with traditional surgery.” The Center for Robotic Surgery surgeons perform more than 3,500 robotic procedures annually, employing 10 machines at four hospitals.

Instead of standing over the patient, as in traditional surgery, the surgeon sits at a nearby da Vinci computer console equipped with an array of video, audio and motion controls.

“The system translates our hand movements into much more highly precise actions and can even bend and rotate the surgical instruments with far more flexibility than our own hands and wrists,” said Juan-Carlos Verdeja, M.D., founding president of the hospital’s medical staff. “With the 3-D, high-definition video screen, we have total visual immersion in the surgical site – far better than if we were actually at the patient’s side.”

The da Vinci system is manufactured by Intuitive Surgical Inc., a global technology leader in minimally invasive robotic-assisted surgery.


Baptist Health is the largest healthcare organization in the region, with seven hospitals (Baptist Hospital, Baptist Children’s Hospital, Doctors Hospital, Homestead Hospital, Mariners Hospital, South Miami Hospital and West Kendall Baptist Hospital) and more than 30 outpatient and urgent care facilities spanning three counties. The not-for-profit, faith-based Baptist Health has more than 15,000 employees and 2,200 affiliated physicians, and also includes Baptist Health Medical Group, Baptist Outpatient Services and internationally renowned centers of excellence. Baptist Health Foundation, the organization’s fundraising arm, supports services at all hospitals and facilities.

Baptist Health was just listed by Fortune magazine as one of the 100 Best Companies to Work For in America (#19 in the nation and #1 in Florida) and has remained on the list for 14 years. It was also recognized as one of the World’s Most Ethical Companies for the fourth year in a row by the Ethisphere Institute. Visit

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