Scarless Gall Bladder Surgery Debuts in Arizona at John C. Lincoln North Mountain Hospital

Minimally invasive surgery has taken yet another giant step forward. Thanks to the latest breakthrough in robotic-assisted procedures, patients at John C. Lincoln North Mountain Hospital can now have their gall bladders removed in about the same amount of time as a lunch break, and be home in time for dinner with minimal discomfort and no visible scar.

Two surgeons from Valley Surgical Clinics — Francisco Rodriguez, MD, FACS, and Rick Low, MD, FACS, are the first in the Valley and among the first in the nation trained to perform very latest in minimally invasive surgery — "belly button" gall bladder removals, which they offer to their patients compliments of the da Vinci Si Robotic Surgical System at North Mountain Hospital.

scarless gall bladder surgery
Francisco Rodriguez, MD, FACS at the controls of the da Vinci Si Robotic Surgical System at North Mountain Hospital, one of only 20 sites in the nation approved for robot-assisted removal of the gall bladder through a single incision in the belly button.

Like doctors at many hospitals in the Valley, surgeons at North Mountain utilize the da Vinci surgical robot for a variety of minimally invasive robotic urological, gynecological and general surgical procedures.

However, North Mountain is one of only 20 sites in the nation that have been approved for this newest advance in robotic surgery, removing the gall bladder through a single incision in the belly button, for which Intuitive Surgical, Inc., received FDA-approval in December. Each year, about one million people in the United States have their gall bladders removed.

The da Vinci's new operating platform allows Dr. Rodriguez and Dr. Low to perform the surgical procedure that's technically called a single incision robotic-assisted laparoscopic cholecystectomy. The system enables surgeons to reduce the traditional number of laparoscopic incisions from about four to one that is less than an inch in length.

scarless gall bladder surgery
According to Rick Low, MD, FACS, the benefits of single-incision gall bladder surgery go far beyond cosmetics. The greatest benefit, he said, is less post-surgical pain.

The robotic system not only gives Dr. Rodriguez and Dr. Low the ability to operate through one small incision, through a natural body opening like the belly button, but the da Vinci provides precision and three-dimensional, high definition vision that enhances surgical capabilities.

"I think this is only the beginning and eventually we will expand the use of this tool for more procedures," said Dr. Rodriguez. "This is a great benefit to patients. It is just one more step in our efforts to make surgery less invasive, less difficult and safer for the patients who trust us with their health. That means we can offer this procedure to more of our patients."

"This is about a lot more than cosmetics — it's not just about scarless surgery," Dr. Low said. "It's about pain. One incision is going to hurt less than four incisions, even if the four are small. Nobody can argue about that. One incision is a real improvement in pain control, and a major benefit to patients, even the ones who don't care about scars."

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