Friday, March 14, 2014 - 'Firefly' Imaging Lands at STPH




This story appear in the Spring 2014 issue of Heart to Heart, which can found online by clicking here

COVINGTON - St. Tammany Parish Hospital has become the first Northshore hospital to pair groundbreaking fluorescent imaging technology with the unmatched precision of the latest-generation da Vinci robotic surgery system. The technology improves surgeons’ visualization of blood flow and vascular tissue during minimally invasive procedures.

So-called “firefly” fluorescent imaging is one of several new da Vinci Si surgery system features STPH acquired in December 2013. Urologist Sunil Purohit MD was the first Northshore physician to use the firefly feature to remove a tumor at STPH.

Additional features include enhanced resolution of real-time 3-D optics, new patient-safety features and technology that allows physicians to complete certain surgeries through a single small incision. Guided instrument exchange and automated safety checks build on da Vinci’s core systems that have been safely used for years at STPH for gynecological and urological operations.

It is named for the lightning bug with good reason. A special dye injected into the patient’s body reacts with a protein in the blood to make vascular tissue appear fluorescent — or “firefly” — green during surgery, said Northshore oncologist and gynecologist Patricia Braly MD, who also has extensive experience in robotic surgery at STPH.  Fluorescence allows the surgeon to better see anatomical landmarks, capillaries and other vascular tissue during surgery, in addition to a more detailed view of the blood supply to the kidney during the procedure.

“The optics are much better,” Dr. Braly said.

The firefly technology also improves physicians’ understanding of kidney cancers and helps them remove tumors more safely while sparing healthy kidney tissue.

The latest da Vinci Si robot refines the fundamental advancement of robotic surgery: Excellent optics and the need for tiny, less painful abdominal incisions. It also builds on STPH’s unrivaled experience among Northshore healthcare providers that use da Vinci systems.

“Experience is golden,” said Covington obstetrician and gynecologist Katherine Williams MD, who has completed nearly 400 hysterectomies and other gynecological surgeries using da Vinci technology. “Experience means patient safety.”

Traditional laparoscopic surgeries that required several smaller incisions can now be done with the new robot’s Single Site feature. A tiny camera and special surgical instruments all enter the patient’s body through a single incision made in the navel.

The approach means less pain, diminished blood loss, a faster recovery and no visible scar, said Covington general and vascular surgeon Surendra Purohit MD, who has used the new Single Site technology for gall bladder surgeries at STPH.

“This is the future of surgery,” Dr. Purohit said.

Even when multiple incisions are required for laparoscopic surgery, those incisions can be smaller, Dr. Williams said.

“This means more precision in every respect,” Dr. Williams said. 


 A full-service acute care facility committed to providing world-class healthcare and the latest technology, St. Tammany Parish Hospital delivers today’s life-improving procedures with the utmost care to area residents with emphasis on wellness, preventive care and disease management close to home. STPH is a self-supporting not-for-profit community hospital; it receives no tax funding.