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Injured Kings Coach Credits Controversial Surgical Robot With Speedy Recovery

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LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — L.A. Kings coach Darryl Sutter is touting a controversial surgical robot with helping him to get back in the rink less than a week after undergoing double hernia surgery.

Sutter, who had been struggling to keep up during the Kings’ 2013 season, has been given the all-clear for training.

He credits his speedy and successful recovery to the da Vinci robotic surgical system, a minimally invasive device made by Intuitive Surgical. The company says it can perform procedures ranging from treatments for prostate cancer to hysterectomies – all remotely controlled by a surgeon.

“I’ll be in full activity back on the ice again,” Sutter said.

Laparoscopic surgeon Dr. Daniel Marcus performed Sutter’s operation at Marina del Rey Hospital.

He said he’s found the healing and recovery process for his patients “significantly better” with his use of the device.

Earlier this year the FDA launched an investigation into the safety of the robots. Though the agency won’t release specific numbers, officials say there have been numerous complaints regarding the 11-year-old technology.

The FDA released the following statement, which reads in part: “We became aware of an increase in the number of adverse event reports associated with the use of the device. The FDA has elected to talk with surgeons to better understand the factors that may be contributing to the rise.”

But Dr. Marcus says the robotic complication rate is just 1 percent, the same as laparoscopic surgery.

He attributes media attention on the procedures to the fact that more people are undergoing surgery using the device.

Nearly 400,000 operations using the da Vinci Robot were performed last year.

“I don’t think the risk is because of technology. I think the risk is because of the person at the end of the technology,” Dr. Marcus said.

Proponents say the technology allows for better precision.

“You suddenly realize that many things that you couldn’t do before you’re able to do much more easily,” he said.

Sutter says the surgical controversy didn’t sway his decision.

He said he’s thankful he can start training for the 2014 season pain-free.

“Being a former player, I’ve had lots of different orthopedic surgeries done and I wish they could have had some of those done this way,” he said.

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