Robot-Assisted Surgery Offers Benefits for Patients and Surgeons

Nowadays, patients are looking to recover from surgeries faster, better and stronger. For some patients, robot-assisted surgery may be the answer. Instruments like the da Vinci® Surgical System at ProMedica help perform complex surgeries through an incision that’s less than an inch long. This often leads to a quicker and easier recovery.

Kerri Ann Simo, MD, and Victoria Mi Kim, MD lead ProMedica’s hepato-pancreato-biliary (HPB) surgery program and are both fellowship-trained in robotic surgery.

“We have been utilizing the robot to perform minimally-invasive surgeries since the inception of the HPB program at ProMedica,” Dr. Simo shares. She completed the first robot-assisted HPB surgery performed in the greater-Toledo area at ProMedica Toledo Hospital in 2013. Since then, the ProMedica HBP team has performed over 200 robotic-assisted surgeries.

A Detailed View for Surgeons

Robotic surgery can be used for procedures throughout the body, but as HPB specialists, Drs. Simo and Kim use the instrument to perform surgeries of the liver, pancreas and biliary tract (gallbladder and bile ducts). These surgeries may be used to treat patients with conditions such as pancreatitis, bile duct stones, liver abscesses, gallstones, tumors or cancers in the liver, pancreas or gallbladder.

Robotic instruments give HPB surgeons a highly detailed view of the surgical site, with the ability to make precise movements. Surgeons operate robotic arms with controls a few feet away from the operating table and use binocular-like lenses to see details within hundredths of an inch.

“With robot-assisted surgery, we have a wide range of motion that allows us to have a more natural control of our instruments,” Dr. Kim explains. “We also see a 3D view of the surgical site, allowing us to precisely pass through multiple planes when necessary.”

An Easier Recovery for Patients

Dr. Simo and Kim decide whether to use the robot on a case-by-case basis.

“We want to be good stewards of the robot,” Dr. Simo says. “We want to make sure that we are using the right technology on the right patient to result in the best outcome for that patient.”

When robotic surgery is the best option, it can offer many benefits for the patient. Compared to traditional surgery, patients who receive minimally invasive robotic surgery typically benefit from:

  • Shorter hospitalization.
  • Reduced pain and discomfort.
  • Faster recovery time and return to normal activities.
  • Smaller incisions, resulting in reduced risk of infection.
  • Reduced blood loss and transfusions.
  • Minimal scarring.
  • Fewer post-surgery complications.

“The robot is a great tool to have but not always the best to use for every patient,” Dr. Kim explains. If robot-assisted surgery is not determined to be the best route for the patient, the surgeon may elect to perform a laparoscopic or open operation.

If you have questions about robotic surgery or think you may be a candidate, your ProMedica surgeon is here to help. No matter the tools used, they’ll help you on your way to recovery.