A robot has joined the staff at the Lois Hole Hospital for Women in Edmonton to perform life-saving surgeries for women with gynecological cancers. 

The robot, called ‘da Vinci’ was unveiled Friday afternoon and is billed as the first robot dedicated to women’s health in Canada.

“There's lots of literature to show [patients] have decreased pain and scarring. There’s less blood loss during the procedure, shorter hospital stay and ultimately the recovery times are decreased by half,” said Dr. Helen Steed, a cancer surgeon at the hospital who has already used da Vinci on her patients.

Although the robot does the work, the thinking behind the surgeries still belongs to surgeons like Steed. The surgeon controls the robot which then translates their hand movements into more precise movements.

The marriage of the surgeon’s brain with the precise movements of the robot has meant patients can go home early and recover more quickly 

“I was up the very same day, after surgery, I was up and walking, whereas if it was the other way, there was no way I’d be getting out of bed anytime soon,” said Rhonda Plamondon.

Rhonda Plamondon

Rhonda Plamondon was diagnosed with cervical cancer in December and has since been operated on by da Vinci. (CBC)

Plamondon was diagnosed with cervical cancer on Dec. 11 and underwent surgery with the robot three weeks ago. 

A strange “not of this world” experience, at first, she said.

When Plamondon learned of the benefits of the robotic surgery she agreed to having the Da Vinci perform the procedure..

Once she got over the initial nervousness of having a non-human operate on her, she was thankful, as it meant she could return home to be with her children sooner, not stuck recovering at the hospital.

The $3.3 million robot was purchased with  fundraising dollars that have been collected since 2013.

Staff at the Royal Alexandra Hospital, of which the Lois Hole Hospital is part, have used a da Vinci robot to perform general surgery since 2007. The latest da Vinci is unique in that it is solely for the women’s hospital. .