Single-Site, Robotic-Assisted Gallbladder Surgery
Is It for You?
Tom Fahey, MD, FACS
Dr. Tom Fahey is the only surgeon in the region trained and experienced in single-site, robotic-assisted gallbladder surgery.
For patients with gallstones and gallbladder disease, single-site, robotic- assisted surgery may be an excellent option. It is virtually scarless and recovery time is usually much faster than conventional gallbladder surgery. There’s less pain and less bleeding, too.
About Your Gallbladder
Your gallbladder is a pear-shaped organ under your liver that stores and concentrates bile to help digest fat. Gallbladder disease includes inflammation, infection or blockage of the gallbladder. The most common blockage is a gallstone. Gallstones are pebble-like and solid. They can be as large as a golf ball or as small as a grain of sand.
Gallbladder disease is very common, affecting about 10-15 percent of adults in developed countries. It is more common in women, Native Americans, Hispanics, the obese and people over age 40.
Gallbladder disease symptoms may include pain in the upper right side or middle of the abdomen, abdominal fullness, clay-colored stool, fever, nausea and vomiting, or yellowing of skin and whites of eyes.
Treatment for gallbladder disease may include lifestyle changes, medicines and procedures. However, when routine medical care does not ease your symptoms, surgery may be needed. Depending on how severe your symptoms are, doctors may need to remove your gallbladder. This operation is known as a cholecystectomy.
Gallbladder surgery is generally performed using manual laparoscopy. This technique uses several small incisions to access the gallbladder. The approach is intended to speed recovery, minimize pain, reduce blood loss and complications, while offering the added benefit of minimal scarring.
Surgeons may also perform laparoscopic surgery through one incision to virtually eliminate scarring. While single-incision manual laparoscopic surgery does minimize scarring, there are limitations for the surgeon, including reduced visibility, restricted instrument control, restricted reach and increased fatigue due to poor ergonomics. Also, some patients may not be candidates for single-incision laparoscopy if they have complex anatomy or adhesions from a prior surgery. Due to these challenges doctors may need to convert the procedure to multi-incision surgery.
A Virtually Scarless Option
For patients who have been told they need gallbladder surgery, ask about single-site robotic, assisted surgery. This procedure is performed through a single incision using state-of-the-art, precision instruments. Patients who choose single site surgery experience a virtually scarless procedure since surgery is performed through only one incision in the belly button to dramatically limit visible scarring. The primary potential benefits* of single-site gall bladder include:
- Minimal scarring
- Minimal pain
- Low blood loss
- Fast recovery
- Short hospital stay
- High patient satisfaction
* As with any surgery, these benefits cannot be guaranteed since surgery is unique to each patient and procedure.
Lodi Health uses the da Vinci Surgical System to overcome the limitations of manual laparoscopy. The system has enhanced capabilities, including high-definition 3D vision and a magnified view.
A specially trained and experience surgeon uses the da Vinci system, which translates his or her hand movements into smaller, more precise movements of tiny instruments inside a patient’s body.
Though it is often called a “robot,” the daVinci system cannot act on its own; the surgery is performed entirely by an experienced doctor.
Together, the da Vinci system instruments allow the physician to perform gallbladder surgery through a single incision. As a result, patients may be able to get back to their lives without the recovery or scars that usually follow major surgery.
All surgeries involve the risk of major complications. Before you decide on any surgery, discuss treatment options with your doctor. Understanding the risks of each treatment can help you make the best decision for your situation.