Surgery to remove the gallbladder is one of the most common operations performed in this country by general surgeons with over 4,000 being done in Alabama alone. Patients typically present with pain in the right upper abdomen after eating a fatty meal. This pain can be quite intense, often sending patients to the emergency room for evaluation. Food (especially fatty foods) stimulates the gallbladder to contract to aid in digestion. When a patient has gallstones, intermittently these stones will block the outlet to the gallbladder causing pain which can last from several hours to all day. The only treatment for this is to remove the gallbladder along with the stones it contains.
This procedure was first accomplished with the laparoscope in 1989, which changed the course of history as it relates to general surgery. This advance in technology leads to decreased pain, decreased recovery time, and an improvement in cosmesis over traditional open surgery. It wasn't long before more and more procedures were being done with this new technology with similar results for a myriad of diagnosis and surgical diseases.
The Da Vinci Robot has taken that a step further with its introduction of the single site platform for gallbladder surgery. Trinity Medical Center was the first in Alabama to apply this technology and at the time of this writing have done over 30 of these cases. The technology allows us to perform the same operation, with the same safety profile as in traditional laparoscopy, but it does this with improved cosmesis. The incision is nearly completely contained within the umbilicus (belly button) and is virtually invisible when healing is complete. In my opinion, there is no other technology that allows for this approach in virtually every patient that desires it. I also believe that this is the tip of the iceberg as many other procedures will be performed using this single site (incision) technology and we are happy to be on the leading edge offering this to our patients.