Physician-guided da Vinci Robotic Surgery Takes Fear Out of Patient’s Gallbladder Removal

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The 45-minute da Vinci procedure is less painful and recovery time is shorter.

Margie Zoucha remembers having a sharp pain in her abdomen, just below her left breast, about a year and a half ago.

When she bent down, a hot pain shot up her left side. During her doctor visit, an ultrasound was performed on the right side.

“I said, ‘You know, my pain is on my left side. What are you doing on my right?’” Margie, 61, says.

Kent Sasse, MD, a board-certified surgeon, knew right away what the issue was.

“They call the gallbladder the great mimicker,” says Dr. Sasse, one of seven surgeons trained and credentialed to perform gallbladder removal surgeries with the da Vinci Robotic Surgical System at Renown Regional Medical Center. “(The gallbladder) can cause quite a few symptoms: abdominal pain, a nausea sensation, gas, bloating sensation. In less common cases it can cause a burning sensation. We do hear all of those. It can be all of the above.”

Read more: Da Vinci Xi, Newest Addition to the Surgery Team at Renown

Not long after her diagnosis, Dr. Sasse performed a single-site gallbladder removal procedure known as a Cholecystectomy on Margie using the da Vinci Robotic Surgical System , which puts the controls in the surgeon’s hands, giving them advanced vision, precision, dexterity and control over the state-of-the-art robotic platform.

The result was one small incision made through her belly button which means faster recovery, virtually no scar and significantly less post-surgery pain.

The procedure took only 45 minutes.

“I was never in any real pain after the surgery,” says Margie, a 9-year Reno resident. “I didn’t need pain pills. I was pretty sore getting out of bed the next day, but when the soreness went away, it was fine.”

Dr. Sasse said more than 500 da Vinci Surgeries are performed at Renown Institute for Robotic Surgery each year.  The da Vinci technology is beneficial for patients who are uneasy about surgery and provides an effective, minimally invasive alternative to both open surgery and laparoscopy.

“The main benefit is just having the whole procedure done with one small incision, which can be effectively hidden in the belly button,” Dr. Sasse says. “There’s a misconception that it’s a robot or computer doing the surgery. That’s not true. The surgeon, who is very well-trained, is operating the controls at all times.”

Margie’s life has been revitalized since the da Vinci Surgery, and she has lost 50 pounds. Her most recent challenge was planning her husband Richard’s 75th birthday party.

She is happy to no longer have those burning pains in her abdomen.

“I remember during my first visit, I was asked if I wanted to do (gallbladder removal) the conventional way or with da Vinci,” Margie says. “I’m glad I chose (da Vinci).”

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