The Star Tribune
of Minneapolis has an interesting piece on the expanding use of the da Vinci surgical robot system
, made by Intuitive Surgical Inc. (Sunnyvale, CA). While it has been on the market since 1999, it has primarily been used to treat prostate cancer, until recently. Now, it is seeing frequent use in applications such as myomectomy (uterine fibroid removal), bariatric surgery, kidney donor harvesting, and coronary bypass. Interestingly, the increased use is being driven not only by doctors who like the ease of use and effectiveness of the system, but also by patients, who are learning through the Internet of new and better ways that procedures are being performed. All of this means that more hospitals are seeing the system's hefty price tag (the piece mentions that one hospital paid $1.6 million for it) as worth it.