Patient Opts for Single-Incision Gallbladder Surgery for Faster Recovery

Deidra Roberson relaxes in her home.

When Deidra Roberson, Ed.D., first learned she needed her gallbladder removed, she didn't know the diseased organ would be taken out via robotic surgery in a single incision in her navel.

On March 27, Saint Joseph Hospital made the Chicago record books as the second healthcare provider in Cook County to offer robotic single-site cholecystectomy, which is removal of the gallbladder through one belly button incision. Roberson was one of two patients at Saint Joseph Hospital to have the breakthrough robotic surgery that day.

Surgeon Rami Lutfi, MD, FACS, made a single incision in the patient's navel. Then, using the robotic arm, he inserted a camera and special tiny curved instruments to cut and remove the gallbladder through the small opening. He completed the minimally invasive procedure in about one hour using the da Vinci Si Surgical System, which blends computer, robotic and surgical technologies.

Benefits of Robotic Surgery

Laparoscopic gallbladder surgery requires about four incisions in the stomach area. Patient benefits from the single-incision robotic surgery include better cosmetic results, potentially less pain and faster recovery.

Roberson, who has a doctorate in educational psychology and has worked as a school psychologist for more than 30 years, had two painful gallbladder attacks in February and continued to have stomach pain, gas and body aches. Her doctor recommended a visit to Dr. Lutfi.

An Easier Recovery

"Dr. Lutfi told me about single-incision robotic surgery and I said OK - I had faith," said Roberson, who resides in Chicago's Chatham/Avalon neighborhood. "Paramount on my mind - having had several prior stomach surgeries - was that it would be an easier recovery. I had two surgeries and they were not a walk in the park."

Roberson had a medical condition related to her lung that required her to stay overnight, otherwise, she would have been ready to go home a couple of hours after surgery.

Doing Laundry in a Few Days

"I live in a tri-level house and was going up and down the stairs within a few days," she said. "The hardest thing was getting in and out of bed." Within a few days, she also was cooking her own meals and doing laundry. Roberson opted for surgery during spring break at school, so she wouldn't miss much work.

One week after the procedure, Roberson visited Dr. Lutfi for a follow-up exam. Roberson played it safe and returned to school about two weeks after surgery - knowing that she has to carry a heavy briefcase in her job. She missed only three days of work following spring break.

"Minus the lung issue, I wouldn't hesitate to have the surgery again," said Roberson, noting she had some soreness around the navel. Roberson said she would recommend the procedure.

The surgery can be performed on men and women who have gallstones, or a diseased gallbladder without stones, that needs to be removed due to pain.

Additional Information

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