One-thousand lives have been touched in some way by one man who is making sure he delivers the best, minimally invasive surgical care in Lufkin. Darry Meyer, D.O. with Angelina Surgical Associates performed his 1,000th procedure using the da Vinci Xi surgical system at St. Luke’s Health-Memorial on Wednesday, November 29. He is only the 5th general surgeon in the state of Texas and the first general surgeon in East Texas to reach this landmark milestone.
The 1,000th procedure was performed on a 65-year-old Lufkin man who had recently been diagnosed with a tumor in his colon.
“To me, it wasn’t as big of a deal to reach the 1,000 mark until everyone around here made it a big deal,” Dr. Meyer said, laughingly. “I’m just here to take care of my patients, and I know that robotic surgery greatly benefits them. I think having a strong robotic program for minimally invasive procedures is a major benefit for the community. St. Luke’s Health has done a lot to help advance the robotic program, and they continue to support us as surgeons and provide us with the tools we need to advance quality patient care.”
Dr. Meyer began training on the robot 5 years ago, along with one of St. Luke’s Health-Memorial’s dedicated robotic teams. He said his advanced laparoscopic skills made him a prime candidate for becoming a robotic surgeon, along with his interest in learning the most innovative technique for his trade. Since that time he has become a proctor for other robotic surgeons across the country and is assisting St. Luke’s Health in becoming a Center of Excellence for its robotic surgery program.
“It’s been a natural evolution of surgical techniques to go from the open procedures to laparoscopy and then to the robot,” Dr. Meyer said. “I can do robotic procedures as fast if not faster than I could before, and the benefit to the patient is even greater. We can get them in and out of anesthesia quicker, and they have a shorter recovery to get back on their feet.”
In 2016, St. Luke's Health-Memorial acquired the da Vinci Xi Robotic System, currently the most advanced robotic technology available between Houston and Dallas. It is also the only hospital in the area to boast two robots to offer surgeons better access.
Using one of the two robotic systems at St. Luke’s Health, the surgeon controls every motion of the robotic arms which can rotate and move in any direction, extending the range of the surgeon’s expert touch while still using laparoscopic techniques. Unlike standard laparoscopy, in which surgeons operate through small incisions and are limited in how much they can angle or turn their instruments, the da Vinci system allows an experienced surgeon to have more freedom of motion to perform an operation within a small space in the body.
The da Vinci surgical system offers 3D HD vision with 10x magnification, as well as fully wristed instrumentation and surgeon-controlled movement of the instruments and camera. It can be used across a spectrum of minimally invasive surgical procedures, including gynecology and urology, and has been optimized for multi-quadrant use in general surgery. By enhancing surgical capabilities, the da Vinci Robotic System helps improve clinical outcomes and redefine standards of care. Patients who undergo robotic procedures as opposed to open procedures may experience reduced trauma to the body, reduced blood loss and need for transfusions, less post-operative pain and discomfort, less risk of infection, a shorter hospital stay, faster recovery and return to normal daily activities, and less scarring.
“Using the robot takes minimally invasive surgery to the next level,” Dr. Meyer said.
Currently Dr. Meyer and fellow general surgeon Alan Bassin, M.D. use the robot for gallbladder removal, hernia repair, anti-reflux procedures, colorectal procedures, and bariatric surgery. St. Luke’s is the only facility in the area to offer surgeons access to the robot and the skilled robotics team 7 days a week, 24 hours a day.
“Major issues requiring surgery can happen at any moment. Having the robot available at all times keeps patients from having to undergo open procedures that may increase their length of stay in the hospital, their overall recovery time or morbidity,” Dr. Meyer said. “Also, if we can provide the latest technology in medicine or surgery here, then our patients don’t have to travel to Tyler or Houston. Our patients are benefitting from the fact that we continue to invest in the latest, minimally invasive technology.”
Urologist David Price, M.D. and Gynecologist Kaywin Carter, M.D., both of Lufkin, have also performed more than 1,000 robotic procedures in their respective fields.