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14:20 PM

Pair of pediatric robotic surgeries the result of teamwork between Children’s Mercy, KU Hospital

More than 20 years of teamwork between urologists at Children’s Mercy and University of Kansas Hospital culminated in a pair of groundbreaking pediatric robotic surgeries earlier this month.

Using the DaVinci robot, a pair of Children’s Mercy pediatric surgeons – Paul Bowlin, MD, and Joel Koenig, MD – performed two pediatric operations at KU on Dec. 21. Both patients had been diagnosed with uretero-pelvic junction obstruction, meaning the urine that their kidneys were making was blocked from entering the bladder. Over time, the swelling could have led to loss of renal function had the situation not been addressed. Thanks to the robotic pyeloplasty, both boys – ages 11 and 15 – are expected to have normal renal function in the future.

“Our urologists serve as the Division of Pediatric Urology within the Department of Urology at the University of Kansas Hospital,” said G. Whit Holcomb III, MD, Surgeon-in-Chief at Children’s Mercy and Director for the Center for Minimally Invasive Surgery. “We’ve had a close working relationship in pediatric urology with the team at KU for more than 20 years, and using the DaVinci robot for these surgical breakthroughs was a natural extension of our longstanding collaboration.”

Dr. Koenig and Dr. Bowlin (pictured above with David Duchene, MD, of KU) brought ample experience to the procedure, having combined for around 80 robotic operations during training.

“In complex reconstructive procedures such as pyeloplasty,” Dr. Koenig explained, “the wrist articulation of the robot allows more precise suturing and reconstruction of the uretero-pelvic junction.”

The team anticipates using the DaVinci robot for around 25-30 of these pyeloplasty procedures each year – including similar situations where more than one surgery could be done in a day – with the ability to expand the use of the robot as other patients require.

“The advantage of the robot,” Dr. Holcomb explained, “is in complicated reconstructive procedures that involve sewing urinary or intestinal organs back together. We are one of the premier children’s hospitals in this country and are leaders in the use of minimally invasive surgery (MIS) in children. Use of the robot is really an extension of MIS, but should be used when it is advantageous as there are additional costs usually associated with its use.”

Click here to learn more about the Department of Surgery at Children’s Mercy.