ROBOTIC SURGERY: New Surgery Offers Faster Healing

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It's a routine surgery that is performed a million times a year in the U.S.

But now gallbladder surgery is being performed at a higher level with less complications and less scaring right here in Des Moines.

Tim Mullen said when he needed his gallbladder removed he thought that meant an in-depth procedure.

“I just assumed the whole time I would have the three holes like everyone told me about so when I heard there was an option I was all for it,” says Tim Mullen of Bondurant.

That option was a new technique called single site surgery, recommended by his Doctor Jeff Maire at Mercy Medical Center.

The new technique is a less invasive option to under-go the same procedure.

“A single site is where we use one incision to remove the gallbladder, and we use several ports through that which takes away all of those other incisions,” says Dr. Maire.

The surgeon makes that incision in the patients belly button and uses a port that allows robotic tools to go in and out.

The doctor sits feet away and performs the entire operation from a console, which Doctor Maire says is a win-win.

“Having the doctor be comfortable is very important for fatigue for the surgeon and when we`re up doing long procedures that turn out to be difficult it`s defiantly a benefit to have the robot there, are visualization is excellent and we can do a lot safer procedures that way,” says Dr. Maire.

For Mullen it was an easy decision that left him with little side-effects.

“After the procedure there was tenderness to the incision a little bit but the effects of the surgery were immediately noticed.  I didn`t have any more pain when I ate, I was able to return to my normal diet, I had zero issues with it.  I felt immediately better after having the surgery,” says Mullen.

There is minimal scarring, minimal pain and very low blood loss, most patients leave the day of and are able to go home.

The surgery is relatively new, and has only been at Mercy Medical Center since the first of the year, but has quickly become the fastest growing procedure at the hospital.

Mullen says less than a week after surgery he was back to work and back to his normal routine.

“It`s one of the best things I’ve ever done, I should have done it two years ago actually,” says Mullen.

Doctor Maire says the robotic option has provided a safer alternative to a routine procedure for everyone involved.

“It is a sign of the times, it`s technology, it`s advancement in procedures and I think that`s all for the betterment of the patient,” says Dr. Maire.

Mercy Medical Center performed over 500 robotic procedures last fiscal year.