By Gemma Long
Technological advances in medicine now mean there are greater rewards for the surgeon and for the patient. Robotic technology was introduced to surgical medicine in 2000 and has since aided in millions of procedures nationwide.
HSHS St. Mary’s Hospital in Decatur, Illinois began its robotic surgery program in November of last year. Nikesh R. Lath, MD, a general, laparoscopic and robotic surgeon with the HSHS Medical Group joined the hospital’s medical staff in September 2015, having completed his General Surgery residency at Morristown Medical Center in Morristown, New Jersey last year. Dr. Lath initiated the robotics program at St. Mary’s using the da Vinci® Surgical Robot with Firefly Technology. Currently the technology is available at HSHS St. Mary’s Hospital for general, gynecological, and urologic surgery.
Dr. Lath, a general surgeon, with specializations in advanced laparoscopic and minimally invasive surgeries, performed the first operation at St. Mary’s Hospital using the robot to remove the gall bladder of patient Father John Burnette.
Dr. Lath says the removal of the gall bladder is a fairly common procedure these days; although, it is most frequent in obese females in their 40s, the condition affects all sexes and ages—even teenagers.
Father Burnette, 66, who suffered with gallstones, hard deposits that can develop in the gall bladder, for some time, said that undergoing the procedure was a relief given his quick recovery and good health since the robotic surgery.
“It was off and on for a few months that I really began to pay attention. As I look back, it was causing other discomfort. Once they ruled out more serious problems, I had the gall bladder scan done and they found that my gall bladder was not working and needed to be removed,” says Burnette. “It was in short order that they were able to schedule me in to remove it and as a result the symptoms I had before went away.
“I was feeling pretty well after the surgery,” he said. “It was performed on Tuesday afternoon; I was in recovery for a short time, and then was soon taken to my room where I was cared for by the excellent nursing staff. I had slight nausea, due to the anesthetic, which was quickly taken care of. That evening, I was able to go ahead and eat a light meal with no major dietary restrictions. The next morning I was back up to speed, I had breakfast and then lunch, before being discharged that day. It was an all-round good experience and the nursing staff treated me like family.”
Father Burnette said he would highly recommend Dr. Lath and the robotic surgery.
“I would recommend Dr. Lath, not only professionally, but I also received a sense from him that he really cares about his patients. The explanation he gave me before the surgery, afterwards, and during the recovery process was extensive; he went through everything with me.”
Father Burnette was not fazed by the fact that this was Dr. Lath’s first robotic surgery at St. Mary’s Hospital.
“It was explained to me that a robotic assisted laparoscopic surgery, such as this, helps the surgeon to be more precise with enhanced 3D vision and shortens the recovery time because it’s not as invasive,” said Father Burnette. Father Burnette said he was back to his old self in no time.
“There was a sense of tiredness, but I’d tried to plan ahead with another priest coming in and helping me with Masses on the weekend. I even went to visit friends for their 50th anniversary; I drove there and back and had an early Mass the next morning. I was back to a full Monday less than a week later.”
Father Burnette emphasized the professionalism and quality of care he was provided at St. Mary’s Hospital before, during, and after his robotic surgery.
“The whole staff at St. Mary’s was welcoming and anything I needed they were able to provide me with. They checked on me regularly and took great care of me at the hospital.”
Dr. Lath explained that the da Vinci® Surgical Robot with Firefly Technology is one of the latest evolutions of laparoscopic surgery.
“It’s one of the most recent technologies that helps in performing complex surgeries through tiny incisions,” he said. “For starters, the robot has four arms. One of them is a camera arm and the other three arms act as the surgeon’s hands.”
Dr. Lath said there are huge benefits for the patient and the surgeon when it comes to robotic surgery. “For the patient, non-invasive surgery offers smaller incisions, less pain, less discomfort, less scarring, faster recovery, and quicker return to daily activities due to a fewer number of complications compared to open surgery.”
Robotic surgery provides a three-dimensional view for the surgeon, which is far superior compared with the traditional two-dimensional view, Dr. Lath added.
“With these technological advances, the surgeon is able to have a fuller range of motion inside of the body through tiny incisions. It has also enhanced visualization and dexterity allowing surgeons to perform complex tasks in tight body spaces, which would otherwise be possible only through traditional open and long incision surgeries.”
Firefly Technology allows the surgeon to inject green dye an hour ahead of the surgery. This dye then lights up helping surgeons to better identify structures in the abdomen so there is no need to perform intraoperative x-rays for image guided surgery.
By providing surgeons with superior visualization, enhanced dexterity, greater precision and ergonomic comfort, the da Vinci® Surgical System makes it possible to perform minimally invasive procedures involving complex dissection or reconstruction.
Presently, Dr. Lath performs robotic repairs of groin hernias and abdominal wall hernias, in addition to gallbladder surgery, with plans to do more complex procedures such as colectomies and hiatal hernias (stomach bulge) repairs in future.
HSHS St. Mary’s Hospital is located at 1800 East Lake Shore Drive in Decatur, Illinois. For information about services provided at the hospital, please call 217-464-2966 or visit www.stmarysdecatur.com.
Back to Top