Dr. Drexel Dobson of Wuesthoff Health System pioneers complex general and colorectal surgical procedures with the da Vinci® surgical system
In the approximately one year H. Drexel Dobson, III, M.D. has been with Surgical Associates of Brevard, a physician clinic of Wuesthoff Health System, the highly specialized surgeon has successfully completed several intricate surgical procedures for Brevard County patients with the da Vinci® minimally invasive robotic surgical system.
Using this system, the surgeon sits comfortably at a console, viewing a three-dimensional, high-definition image of the patient’s tissue and anatomy. The surgeon then uses controls below the viewer to move system’s robotic surgical instruments, which offers precision far greater than the human hand. During a procedure, the system seamlessly translates the surgeon’s hand, wrist and finger movements into more precise movements of the surgical instruments inside the patient.
To the benefit of Brevard County patients, Wuesthoff Health System has invested in the latest model of the da Vinci, the Si™, which offers the latest interfaces, added appendages and other unique features. “(Investment in) this system represents Wuesthoff’s commitment to the best level of care,” says Dr. Dobson.
Dr. Dobson earned his medical degree by age 24 at the University of Miami, before going on to complete a residency in 2000 at Rush Presbyterian-St. Luke’s Medical School/Cook County Hospital in Chicago, followed by a fellowship in colon and rectal surgery at Cook County Hospital. Dr. Dobson, who was born in Cocoa Beach at the height of the Apollo program, says he’s “very happy to be back” in Brevard County today.
Having begun procedures with the da Vinci in 2007-2008, Dr. Dobson is one of the earliest adopters of the system, and today, the board-certified general surgeon and diplomate of the American College of Surgeons, has participated in approximately 130 programs at universities and private practices around the U.S. where he has educated and trained fellow surgeons on the da Vinci.
And while everyday more and more surgeons are beginning to complete operations using the da Vinci, Dr. Dobson is currently one of very few who can say he has completed hundreds of successful procedures using the system.
SINGLE-INCISION GALLBLADDER REMOVAL
In 2008, Dr. Dobson earned the honor of being the first in the world to complete a single-incision robotic gallbladder-removal surgery, otherwise known as a laparoscopic cholecystectomy. During this procedure, the patient’s gallbladder is removed through a single, one-inch incision in the belly button.
At Wuesthoff Medical Center – Rockledge, Dr. Dobson is able to perform this procedure using Single-Site™ da Vinci instrumentation, compatible with the Si model. The Single-Site instrumentation represents one of the latest advancements of the da Vinci and was cleared by the FDA in 2011.
“Single-Site instrumentation represents a series of flexible instruments that cross from left to right, reducing instrument crowding and ensuring the instruments don’t run into each other — a common problem with traditional single-incision laparoscopic gallbladder removal,” explains Dr. Dobson. The result is virtually no scarring, minimal pain, less blood loss and faster recovery time. And, nearly everyone who requires gallbladder removal surgery is a candidate for the procedure.
TOTAL ABDOMINAL PROCTOCOLECTOMY
Using the da Vinci, Dr. Dobson and his team also recently completed two total abdominal proctocolectomy with ileal-pouch (j-pouch) anal anasmatosis procedures.
Used to treat diseases of the colon and rectum, such as ulcerative colitis and heredity polyposis syndrome, the surgeon removes the patient’s diseased colon and rectum and creates a new rectum from the patient’s small intestine.
“The laparoscopic, low-impact procedure is much less taxing on the patient’s immune system. The incision is less than two inches, and the patient recovers much quicker,” says Dr. Dobson.
Dr. Dobson uses the da Vinci to perform all sorts of complex abdominal surgeries, including correction of large hiatal and incisional hernias, removal of stomach, colon and rectal tumors and cancers, and even removal of the spleen.
In true Dr. Dobson form, the Rockledge-based surgeon was also the trailblazer for the implantation of a gastric pacemaker. Until this was done in Brevard, the procedure was only available at university-level settings around the state in Florida.
Gastric pacemakers are typically used to treat patients with chronic gastroparesis, a disorder characterized by prolonged gastric retention after food consumption. “This procedure is specific to patients who have problems with gastric motility,” explains Dr. Dobson. “During the procedure, a device that sends an electrical impulse that causes the stomach to move food along is placed in the patient.”
Dr. Dobson has also completed hepatic cryoablation of liver tumors, which allows chemotherapy to target cancer more precisely. In some candidates, this procedure can be done using the da Vinci system when the tumors are not located on the surface of the liver. He says Wuesthoff’s surgeons will eventually use the the da Vinci to treat esophageal cancer and perform minimally invasive bypass surgeries.
It’s this type of high-level surgery, commonly only available in university/academic centers and specialized institutions, that allows Dr. Dobson and other Wuesthoff surgeons to help take the health care organization to the next level. Dr. Dobson says he is proud that Wuesthoff is able to bring a university-level care to a community setting.
“Wuesthoff has always provided a cornerstone care to this area,” says Dr. Dobson. “Now Wuesthoff is investing in new infrastructure, staff and equipment to revitalize the organization. … Wuesthoff is taking the steps to begin a new era of health care in Brevard County.”