prostate cancer -

February 02, 2010 18:32 ET

Robotic Prostatectomy Expert Dr. David B. Samadi, MD Featured in Spanish Newspaper El Pais

Experto De La Prostatectomia Robotica Dr. David Samadi Destacado En El Periódico Espanol El Pais

NEW YORK, NY--(Marketwire - February 2, 2010) - When it comes to robotic surgery, a large component of the procedure is the robot itself. However, it's not the main character. There is an experienced, compassionate surgeon at the controls, manipulating the entire process with a goal of removing cancer and restoring quality of life. In a feature article entitled "Technology, Brain and Heart" (January 10, 2010), the Spanish newspaper, El Pais, highlighted the efforts of one such surgeon: world-renowned robotic surgery expert, Dr. David B. Samadi.

Luis Miguel Ariza, a reporter for El País, the most widely circulated newspaper in Spain, followed Samadi, referred to in the article as "Super-Surgeon," on a typical day in the life of a robotic surgeon. The day begins at 7:00 a.m., in Dr. Samadi's office, full of gift baskets from grateful patients. Samadi, the Chief of Robotics and Minimally Invasive Surgery at The Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York, has attained almost rock-star status from his patients because of his excellent surgery success record. To date, he has successfully performed over 2,100 robotic prostate cancer surgeries, averaging about fifty operations monthly. He is passionate about prostate cancer, which is the second leading cause of death in men after lung cancer, with about 40,000 deaths annually. In Spain, there are about 13,500 prostate cancer cases diagnosed and 6,000 deaths yearly.

"The prostate is a difficult gland to work on, unlike, for example, the thyroid," says Dr. Samadi. The thyroid gland is located directly in the neck, while the prostate is very inaccessible in the pelvic area surrounded by delicate nerves that control sexual function and continence. With the robot and Samadi's vast surgical experience, that includes open traditional and laparascopic, he is able to remove the cancerous gland and preserve these sensitive nerves. "It's not enough for me to cure the cancer," asserted Samadi, "I also want to give my patients the assurance that they can resume their lives as before, without impotence or incontinence, which is just as important to them as a cure."

In his long career, Dr. Samadi has studied with many renowned experts such as Professor Clément-Claude Abbou in France. However, Samadi is inspired by his own personal rock stars such as the late Drs. Michael DeBakey and Christiaan Barnard. DeBakey, a U.S. Library of Congress-designated "Living Legend," was a world-renowned cardiac surgeon, innovator, medical educator, scientist, international medical statesman and recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom with Distinction, the National Medal of Science and the UN Lifetime Achievement Award. Barnard, who performed the world's first human heart transplant in 1967, designed artificial heart valves, authored many papers on congenital intestinal atresia and developed innovative procedures on organ transplant surgeries.

Technology has changed the surgical landscape, but it is not possible without the human factor. Working with the music of Shakira softly in the background, Samadi uses the robotic arms, using his eyes to compensate for the sense of touch. He makes smaller incisions than those in open or laparoscopic surgery, with smaller and more precise tools that offer increased dexterity, reduced tremors and enhanced mobility. Patients leave the hospital and recover faster; 85% recover their potency and 97% recover their urinary control in a short amount of time. The cure rate is around 95% with minimal blood loss. Because of its vast benefits, robotic technology is now being used in many other surgical procedures such as colorectal, gastric bypass, hernia, urology, gynecological, cardiac surgery and neurosurgery.

While a robotic prostatectomy procedure is quite expensive, approximately $40,000, most insurance companies cover the expenses. Dr. Samadi, who is also a medical news contributor on Fox News, believes that America is a leader in medicine, research and technology, which is why he sees patients from around the world, who seek procedures outside of their home countries. He supports healthcare reform so long as quality is not sacrificed for quantity, and performs pro bono procedures on special cases because of this theory.

The article demonstrates the human side of robotic surgery, presenting the person behind the robot. Dr. Samadi believes in treating the patient mentally, as well as physically. It is not uncommon to see Samadi in the hospital on a holiday or day off. His method is to always be available to his patients, whether to answer questions or just provide reassurance. His staff upholds his practice in the office as well, providing constant answers and support. In the article, Samadi concludes, "Saving lives is such a wonderful thing that I would not even call it work. To me, it's an honor."

Dr. Samadi has always emphasized that "the robot doesn't perform surgery; the surgeon does."

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