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Mona the surgical robot helps get the job done

Meet the robot -


OUTLOOK PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - Mona would never destroy her human masters. Never. After watching the doctors on television dramas operate, it is a bit disconcerting to watch how it’s done with a robot.

First, introductions are in order. The doctors and nurses call one of Mount Hood’s robots Mona and the other Leo, in tribute to the machine model, which is called da Vinci. (Leonardo da Vinci, the 15th century artist and inventor, painted the Mona Lisa).

Operating with Mona’s help, the surgeon isn’t even looking directly at the patient. The physician sits in front of a large, grey, boxy machine with pedals and little contraptions to slip his or her fingers into. Those controls allow the doctor to manipulate the surgical instruments.

The doctor peers at a screen inside the big grey control center, which shows her the surgical field where the patient is being operated on.

Parked next to the patient with arms hovering above the patient is the other part of the robot. This is the part that the doctor directs to do the physical cutting and stitching. Formally called the patient cart, this part looks a bit like a big, mechanical praying mantis. The arms on the patient cart also hold the camera that sends the image of the surgical field to the surgeon manipulating the instruments.

Everyone in the room — other doctors, nurses and technicians — can see exactly what the surgeon sees on the screen inside the box, because those images are projected on five or six screens around the room.

At the surgeon’s direction, specially-trained nurses swap out different instruments attached to the three arms of the robot.

Dr. Greg Starley, a general surgeon, at Legacy Mount Hood Medical Center, said patients are not put off by the idea of the robot-assisted surgery and are even eager to be operated on with the help of Mona or Leo.