Dr. Riggs is bladder cancer specialist who came (zoomed) with Davidson pre-med students as part of the College’s Virtual Shadowing in Medicine series. As a prospective physician, I was very interested in hearing from Dr. Riggs, but I was definitely not expecting the event to be as amazing as it was. Dr. Riggs talked about his work in light of the introduction of robotics into medicine and showed us videos of surgeries he performed with such robots. The machine has four arms with various tools on each, along with a camera so the surgeon can see where to go. The surgery we saw was a bladder removal surgery, and it works like this: first, the arms make small cuts in the patient’s abdomen so the arms can get through. Then, they cut around the bladder (and usually the prostate as well) so it is detached from the body. Next, a small ziplock-style bad is inserted and the bladder is put in it, and the bag is closed tightly by a zip-tie. Finally, another slightly larger incision is made, and the bag is pulled out. At this point, the patient is either given a bag as a new bladder or has part of their intestine removed and stapled into a new bladder. Dr. Riggs talked us through everything as it was happening, and it was possibly the coolest thing I saw all semester.
Dr. Riggs is an Urologic Oncologist at the Levine Cancer Center in Charlotte.