Science group tests 3-armed surgical robot

By Rebecca Nussbaum

Director of the Pediatric Robotic Surgery Program at the Childrens Hospital Los Angeles Dr. Chester Koh ’87 demonstrated a da Vinci robot to students, teachers, and parents on Sept. 29.

Koh demonstrated techniques to operate the robot to science teachers Krista McClain, Stephanie Quan and Walt Werner, and 11 students.

Afterwards, everyone had five minutes to test drive the three armed robot, Sanjana Kucheria ’12, who organized the event, said.

They also attempted to put rubber bands around different shaped figures, suture, or tie surgical knots, using the robot. 

The da Vinci robot enables surgeons “to perform complex and delicate procedures through very small incisions with extreme precision,” the Childrens Hospital Los Angeles website stated.

The three science teachers informed students from Human Antatomy and Physiology, Advanced Placement Chemistry, Genetics and Biotechnology, Honors Chemistry, and the robotics club of the opportunity. The students who went were very interested in science, McClain said.

“No one was timid and shy,” she said. “They really got in there and tried it on their own.”

The group also saw videos of doctors using the da Vinci robot to perform surgeries. A representative of Intuitive Surgical, the company that produces the robots, told the students that there are 1,400 of their robots in American hospitals, Kucheria said.

The students also saw the plans for the New Hospital Building, a 460,000 square foot addition to the Childrens Hospital that will open next summer.

They saw six newborns in the Center for Newborn and Infant Critical Care.

Although children are not delivered at the hospital, infants in critical condition are referred to CHLA by other hospitals in the Los Angeles area. 

McClain said that she hopes to bring another group of students to the Childrens Hospital to see the robot during second semester.