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Boy Scouts Test Skills With da VinciĀ® Si Surgical Robot at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Plano

Boy Scouts Test Skills With da Vinci® Si Surgical Robot
Boy Scouts from Plano area troops recently went into the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Plano operating room. Dr. Thomas Heffernan, a surgeon on the hospital's medical staff, showed the Scouts how to work the hospital's daVinci surgical robot.
Boy Scouts Test Skills With da Vinci® Si Surgical Robot
Boy Scouts Test Skills With da Vinci® Si Surgical Robot
PLANO, Texas — Teenage Boy Scouts are typically adept at wielding remote controls for video games. But recently, the Scouts were invited to test their skills with the remote control system that runs the da Vinci® Si at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Plano. The daVinci system is used by surgeons on the medical staff to offer the latest generation minimally invasive robotic-assisted procedures.

The Scouts, who ranged in age from 11 to 15, were all interested in completing the Robotics Merit Badge.

“It was really, really, really, really cool,” said Alex Aiken, a 13-year-old Boy Scout from Plano who said he got the hang of using the surgical robot pretty quickly. “This was the most awesome thing I’ve ever done for a merit badge.”

The boys weren’t the only ones having a good time. Dr. Thomas Heffernan, a gynecologic oncologist on the medical staff at Texas Health Plano, showed them how to work the remote command center.

From a remote command center just a few feet from the patient, surgeons can direct the moves of the robotic system to navigate deep inside the body. Because the robotic arms are so slim, surgeons can perform complex procedures with incisions smaller than half an inch long. Called the da Vinci® Si, the system boasts three-dimensional, high-definition images, which is designed to provide superior visual clarity of target tissue and surrounding organs — with up to 10 times magnification.

“It’s fun to see the process through the eyes of kids,” Heffernan said. “I enjoyed seeing the boys’ reactions to using the equipment and how good they were at moving the robotic arms. Using robotic-assisted equipment helps me perform remarkably complex surgeries with minimal blood loss, much less pain, and shorter hospital stays. Sharing that knowledge today was a highlight.”

The remote instrumentation command center provides dexterity and range of motion greater even than the human hand. Other components of the system help replicate the experience of open surgery by preserving natural eye-hand-instrument alignment and instrument control. Two separate HD optical channels are used to merge images for advanced depth perception.

The da Vinci® Si features a high-definition viewing system and fully articulated robotic arms that assist surgeons in various specialties, including oncology, women’s services, colorectal, urology and general surgery.

For the boys though, part of the fun was being able to go into the operating room itself and measuring their skills against each other. And for the parents it was a good way to let their sons see how robotics may fit into future career paths.

Stephen Dreger said that he thought it was a fantastic opportunity for his two sons. “It was a good opportunity to see robotics in different areas of life,” he said. “It was very nice to have this opportunity close to home.”

For more information on procedures using the da Vinci® robot, visit To find a surgeon using the robot, call 1-877-THR-WELL.

About Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Plano
Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Plano is a 368-bed acute care hospital and recognized clinical program leader, providing technologically advanced care to Plano and surrounding areas since 1991. The hospital’s services include orthopedics, cardiovascular services, oncology, pediatrics and women’s services. An affiliate of the faith-based, nonprofit Texas Health Resources system, Texas Health Plano has more than 1,600 employees and 1,200 physicians on the medical staff. For more information, call 1-877-THR-WELL or visit

About Texas Health Resources
Texas Health Resources is one of the largest faith-based, nonprofit health systems in the United States. The health system includes 24 acute care and short-stay hospitals that are owned, operated, joint-ventured or affiliated with Texas Health Resources. It includes the Texas Health Presbyterian, Texas Health Arlington Memorial and Texas Health Harris Methodist hospitals, a large physician group, outpatient facilities, and home health, preventive and fitness services, and an organization for medical research and education.

For more information about Texas Health Resources, call 1-877-THR-WELL, or visit

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