UIC surgeons break surgical ground
01/25/2012 10:00 PM
Robotic surgery to remove a gallbladder via a single port was performed for the first time in the Midwest recently by surgeons at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Gallbladder surgery using this method involves a single incision instead of multiple cuts and less scarring, according to Dr. Enrico Benedetti, head of the department of surgery at UIC.
In robotic surgery, the surgeon sits at a console operating joysticks that control the robot while its arms perform the actual surgery. The doctor sees the patient and every step of the procedure on various screens and can intervene immediately if necessary.
Dr. Pier Giulianotti, the surgeon at UIC who performed the robotic gallbladder removal, first began practicing robotic surgeries in 1989 and has since done hundreds of them.
“From the beginning I understood that the future of medicine would be connected to computers and robots,” Giulianotti said.
Gallbladder removal “is a very common procedure, performed half a million times in the United States a year,” Benedetti said.
Many of those patients are women for whom a procedure that reduces scarring is important.
Gallbladder removal used to involve conventional, open cavity surgery and then, in the 1980s, the procedure started to be performed with laparoscopy, according to Dr. Benedetti. Laparoscopy involves inserting a camera into small incisions and then inflating the area with carbon dioxide to get a better view and perform the removal.