Raising the Bar
Raising the Bar | Dr. Vipul Patel, Florida Hospital, Global Robotics Institute, Florida Hospital Celebration Health, daVinci robot, University of Central Florida, UCF College of Medicine, Journal of Robotic Surgery, Florida Hospital’s Nicholson Center for Surgical Advancement, Congressman Alan Grayson, Sen. Bill Nelson, Department of Defense grant, Global Center of Excellence in Medical Robotics and Simulation, Dr. Monica Reed.

Dr. Patel performing robotic-assisted prostate removal surgery.

Vipul Patel, MD, Passes 4,000 Mark for Prostate Removal Surgeries via DaVinci Robot

CELEBRATION—Institutions with multiple surgeons have performed more prostate removal surgeries via the daVinci robot, but no single surgeon has come close to the record set recently by Vipul Patel, medical director of Florida Hospital’s Global Robotics Institute in Celebration. In mid-October, the world-renowned surgeon from Central Florida hit the 4,000 mark.

“True, I’ve done more surgeries than anyone,” Patel said softly, “and the numbers keep getting further away.”

Patel has been an eyewitness to the explosion of robotic procedures since the FDA approved the technology a decade ago. In 2001, he was one of the earliest adoptors of robotic surgery.

“I trained as an open surgeon,” said Patel, “and then I took a fellowship in laparoscopy. When I came out, the daVinci robot had just been released and I saw the natural progression to do surgery that’s precise, accurate and improved the chance of patient recovery—continence and sexual function—at the same time getting their cancer cured. Robotic surgery provides a less invasive surgery that allows patients to recover more quickly. Since the technology has been approved, 85 percent of patients who have their prostates removed have the surgery done robotically. Of course, when patients have prostate cancer, we want to cure the cancer, and also improve their quality of life. The robot enables us to have increased precision, perform more adequate surgery long term so they remain cancer-free.”

Patel, who also serves as associate professor of urology at the University of Central Florida (UCF) College of Medicine and editor-in-chief of the Journal of Robotic Surgery and the first robotic urology textbook, joined Florida Hospital from Ohio State University, where he was director of robotic and minimally invasive urologic surgery. He earned his medical degree from the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, and directed the minimally invasive urologic surgery department at Urology Centers of Alabama, and also served as clinical associate professor of urology at the University of Alabama-Birmingham.“I trained at the University of Miami and my wife’s family is from Orlando, so coming here was closer to home,” he explained.

Earlier this year, Patel played a pivotal role in securing the $4.2 million U.S. Department of Defense grant for Florida Hospital’s Nicholson Center for Surgical Advancement (NCSA) in Celebration to train military physicians on robotic technology for the potential application of remote telesurgery.

“This concept is simply amazing,” said Patel. “How far away are we from making it reality? It’s going to take some time. The key is, the award was given to us to research the possibility of telesurgery and how it would affect patient care. We’re still a few years from making it a reality, where we can operate at a distance safely and accurately. That would have huge implications … to be able to deliver care in underprivileged areas and also provide guidance to less experienced surgeons.”

Congressman Alan Grayson secured the grant with support from Sen. Bill Nelson, even though the district doesn’t have a military installation.

The grant will help establish a Global Center of Excellence in Medical Robotics and Simulation, which will be housed at the NCSA, already an international medical destination. Since it was established in 2001 as a global training and education institute, the NCSA has trained more than 35,000 physicians in the newest surgical techniques and technologies to improve patient care and provide access to training.

With grant funding, the training at the center will focus on capabilities in robotic tele-surgery, tele-mentoring and tele-broadcasting. The research conducted will enhance military and civilian healthcare outcomes, increase patient safety, reduce healthcare costs and create high tech jobs. Collaborative partners also include the U.S. Army, UCF Institute for Simulation and Training, UCF College of Medicine and Florida Hospital.

“It’s so important that physicians have access to a training facility that advances the understanding of robotic and simulation technologies,” said Monica Reed, MD, administrator of Florida Hospital Celebration Health, adding that the hospital “is so fortunate to house this outstanding facility, where physicians from all over the world will have the opportunity to further improve their skills.”