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Dr. Jason A. Smith

Dr. Jason A. Smith Urologist Specializes in Robotics Surgery
By Lois Thomson

One of the reasons Dr. Jason A. Smith joined Washington Urology Specialists of The Washington Hospital in July is because the hospital recently acquired a robot, and that forms a good match with his urology practice. Dr. Smith trained on robotics while in residency in Philadelphia, so he is familiar with the process and commented, "Robotics has been a growing area in urology. We are able to offer more and more procedures performed with the help of a robot."

He said that robotics is becoming a more common means to treat some of the complex urologic problems, such as kidney, prostate, and bladder cancers, and explained why it is better than the traditional methods: "The robot affords a better vision, we're able to make smaller incisions and get down to tighter spaces with the precise movements of our hands being transmitted to the robot. There's magnification in the areas by a camera so we're able to see things very clearly, and do maneuvers we're not able to do with an open procedure." The result is that patients may be discharged from the hospital and return to their normal lives faster, and with decreased blood loss and complications.

Dr. Smith added with a chuckle, "It sounds kind of like a space-age procedure, but it's really not. It's the same procedure that we've always been doing, we're just able to do it more precisely with the robot. The surgeon is in complete control, we are in charge of the robot, but the robot affords us movements that we couldn't get to in an open procedure."

Dr. Jason A. Smith recently joined The Washington Hospital's Washington Urology Specialists. Treating kidney stones is part of his practice, and he said that they are a big problem in this region, and a lot of misconceptions surround them. "The reality is that there are a lot of different varieties of stones and many causes for them. So the key for me is to treat the stones that the patient may have now, and go into prevention mode, seeing what we need to do, whether medications vs. surveillance vs. dietary. Certain dietary factors can affect what kind of stones the patients have, and that's why we can't group everybody in the same classification. We need to test everybody, we can't treat everybody the same. There's no 'magic bullet.'"

The idea of using a robot to assist with surgery is fascinating but that's not what interested Dr. Smith in medicine in general, and in becoming a urologist in particular. His father is a family doctor in Waynesburg, so he has been around medicine his whole life, and while in college, he shadowed some doctors and discovered he liked the surgical aspect of medicine. "I followed around general surgeons who kind of steered me to urology. I liked what they did, and in med school, I was really surprised at how diverse urology was. I got more and more interested and decided that was the way I wanted to go."

By "diverse," Dr. Smith said most people are surprised to learn that his practice covers everything from cancers to incontinence to sexual dysfunctions to kidney stones. He also compared urology with other types of surgical specialties, saying "They may fix the problem and you never see the patient again. But for us, we see people with cancers and make sure they don't have recurrences, or people with stones and make sure they don't get new ones. So we usually get to build some nice, long-term relationships with our patients."

For more information, call Washington Urology Specialists at 724-222-8871 or visit www.washingtonhospital.org

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