Patients who have gallbladder surgery can now emerge from the procedure with virtually no scarring and minimal pain, thanks to a technique called single-site robotic surgery, which is now available at Crouse Hospital.
An estimated 10 to 15 percent of American adults have gallstone disease. About one million new cases are diagnosed every year, and approximately 800,000 operations are performed to treat gallstones – making gallstone disease the most common gastrointestinal disorder to require hospitalization.
Surgery to treat this condition has become significantly less invasive over the past two decades. Back then, surgery to remove the gallbladder – a procedure called cholecystectomy – entailed a large abdominal incision and several weeks’ recovery time. Today, however, minimally invasive surgical techniques have made open gallbladder removal nearly obsolete, according to Kenneth Cooper, DO, a general surgeon affiliated with Crouse Hospital and a partner in CNY Surgical Physicians.
Dr. Cooper is the first surgeon in Syracuse to use the advanced da Vinci surgical system to perform gallbladder removal using the single-site technique, which entails just one tiny incision rather the four required previously.
Crouse is the only hospital in Syracuse currently offering this procedure.
“The minimally invasive approach – laparoscopy – is the standard of care today,” says Dr. Cooper, who adds that robotic technology supports the surgeon’s skill with 3D computer technology, enabling him to see vital anatomical structures more clearly and perform surgical procedures more precisely.
The biggest benefit of the single-site approach is cosmetic, says Dr. Cooper, since there's just one small incision in the belly button, leaving only a small, nearly invisible scar. “In most cases, this approach is preferred by younger patients who care about scarring, but it can be offered to almost everyone.”
Five years ago, traditional laparoscopy was the only minimally invasive surgical option for gallbladder removal, according to Dr. Cooper. “Today, patients at Crouse have a choice.”
Crouse’s robotic surgery program covers a wide range of specialties, including urology, colorectal, GYN oncology, gynecology and general surgical procedures. More than 600 robotic procedures were performed at Crouse in 2012, making it the largest robotics program in the area. Continuing its commitment to be at the forefront of advanced medical technology, Crouse has been designated a da Vinci Epicenter robotics training site for colon-rectal surgeons from across the U.S. (one of only seven such sites). On a monthly basis, surgeons come to the Crouse Institute for Robotic Surgery to learn specialized surgical techniques by observing robotic surgeries in action in our da Vinci operating suite.
Symptoms of Gallbladder Disease
The gallbladder is a small, hollow organ, shaped like a crook-necked squash, located below the liver. Its role is to store bile until it’s needed to digest fat from food. If chemicals naturally found in bile get out of balance, crystals form and can harden into gallstones which can block the flow of bile, causing pain, inflammation or infection.
Symptoms of gallbladder disease are often called an “attack” because the symptoms occur suddenly. Gallbladder attacks often follow a fatty meal and may occur at night. A typical attack can cause steady pain in the upper, right side of your abdomen, pain in your back between the shoulder blades and pain under your right shoulder.
Call your doctor if you think you’re having a gallbladder attack. These attacks may end when gallstones shift or move. However, if a blockage persists, your gallbladder can become infected and rupture. It's important to seek care immediately.
For more information about da Vinci robotic surgery visit crouse.org/robotics.