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Local students try out groundbreaking surgical technology

Posted at 6:55 AM, Sep 25, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-25 07:55:42-04

MILWAUKEE — Local students had the chance to sit behind the controls of cutting-edge, surgical machines at Ascension Columbia St. Mary's Hospital on Milwaukee's east side this week.

Student groups from Franklin High School, Milwaukee Jewish Day School, and Messmer High School, attended a robotics teach-in event in the hospital's main foyer. They learned about various health care careers, and gained hands-on experience with surgical robots the hospital said are the "latest in minimally invasive surgical technology."

Dr. Fred Westreich, an OB-GYN, said surgeons like fellow OB-GYNs and urologists have been using the technology at the Milwaukee hospital for several years. It was recently introduced at some of Ascension's other, local facilities earlier this year.

Westreich said sitting at the controls of the machines, and using them to carry out procedures with small, surgical tools, allows doctors to be less invasive and more precise.

"It puts me right inside the abdomen, next to the blood vessel that needs to be stopped or the ligament that needs to be cut," he said.

Westreich said the benefits show up in the after effects on patients.

"From a surgeon's point of view, the things we can measure: blood loss, pain during the procedure, pain after the procedure. Those are all much lower," he said.

Kayla Dudor, a senior at Franklin High School and an aspiring doctor, said she was pleasantly surprised with how easy the machines were to operate.

"It's the same as just using your wrist," she said. "It's amazing to see how far we've come in medicine."

Natalie Gest, a Franklin High School senior who hopes to one day work as a psychologist or neurosurgeon, left the hospital with an even greater admiration for surgeons and the work they perform.

"This allowed me to put myself in their place," Gest said. "It's definitely given me a newfound appreciation for surgeons."