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Robotic Surgery

General Surgery

da Vinci foregut surgery represents the state-of-the art approach for surgical treatment of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), achalasia and hiatal hernias. Use of the da Vinci Surgical System allows anatomical repair, extensive mediastinal esophageal mobilization, facile short gastric dissection and the ability to perform a fundoplication in a precise minimally invasive approach.

Procedures

  • Robotic ventral and incisional hernia repair - If you have a hernia and your doctor suggests surgery, it can be done using minimally invasive surgery. During hernia surgery, the weak tissue in the wall of the stomach or groin is secured and any holes are closed. da Vinci Ventral Hernia Surgery offers the following potential benefits: Low rate of the hernia returning, low rate of pain, low rate of surgeon switching to open surgery, short hospital stay

  • Robotic inguinal hernia repair - An inguinal hernia occurs when tissue pushes through a weak spot in your groin muscle. This causes a bulge in the groin or scrotum. The bulge may hurt or burn. 

  • Robotic Heller myotomy - If you have been told you have the swallowing disorder like achalasia, your doctor may suggest surgery. The goal of surgery is to help food and liquids reach your stomach. da Vinci technology enables your surgeon to operate through a few small incisions (cuts), like traditional laparoscopy, instead of a large open incision.

  • Robotic colon resection including LAR, APR, partial colectomyResection is another name for any operation that removes tissue or part of an organ. Bowel resection, also called partial colectomy, removes the tumor. To make sure that only healthy tissue is left, the doctor removes a small amount of colon or rectum tissue on both sides of the tumor.

  • Robotic adrenalectomy -  Adrenalectomy is the removal of one or both adrenal glands. A number of conditions that affect the adrenal glands may be indication for removal, including hypoadrenalism, Cushing's syndrome, congenital adrenal hyperplasia and Conn's syndrome.

  • Robotic cholecystectomy - Cholecystectomy is the removal of the gallbladder. Gallbladder surgery can be done using open surgery (through one large incision) or minimally invasively (through a few small incisions or one belly button incision) using da Vinci Surgery or traditional laparoscopy.

 

Hiatal Hernia Repair

What is a paraesophageal hernia?

Any time an internal body part pushes into an area where it doesn't belong, it's called a hernia. The hiatus is an opening in the diaphragm - the muscular wall separating the chest cavity from the abdomen. Normally, the esophagus goes through the hiatus and attaches to the stomach. In a hiatal hernia, the stomach bulges up into the chest through that opening. There are two main types of hiatal hernias: sliding and paraesophageal (next to the esophagus).

In a sliding hiatal hernia, the stomach and the section of the esophagus that joins the stomach slide up into the chest through the hiatus. This is the more common type of hernia. These sliding hiatal hernias are a risk factor for gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), and many patients with hiatal hernias suffer from GERD symptoms such as heartburn.

The paraesophageal hernia is less common, but is more cause for concern. In many patients, paraesophageal hernias may not cause any symptoms for the patient. These asymptomatic hernias can be safely observed and do not require surgery. When a paraesophageal hernia begins to cause symptoms (chest pain, upper abdominal pain, difficulty swallowing), these are usually repaired. Symptomatic paraesophageal hernias are at higher risk for progressing to incarceration (stomach gets stuck resulting in obstruction) or ischemia (blood supply to the stomach is cut off) resulting in the need for emergency surgery.

When should a paraesophageal hernia be repaired?

In general, all paraesophageal hernias causing symptoms should be repaired. Common symptoms from a paraesophageal hernia include:

  • Chest pain – there are many causes for chest pain. It is important that patients who have a large paraesophageal hernia with chest pain undergo some kind of a cardiac evaluation to make sure that the chest pain is not from their heart. Typically, eating brings on chest pain from a paraesophageal hernia. Some patients have pain every time they eat, and others only experience discomfort every once in a while.
  • Epigastric pain – this is pain in the middle, upper abdomen.
  • Dysphagia – difficulty swallowing.
  • Shortness of breath – in some very large paraesophageal hernias, the stomach may push on the diaphragm or compress the lungs contributing to a sensation of shortness of breath. There are many other reasons for shortness of breath in addition to a paraesophageal hernia.
  • Stomach ulcer – in some patients with paraesophageal hernias, the stomach may twist upon itself resulting in a specific kind of stomach ulcer known as a Cameron’s erosion. These ulcers can occasionally contribute to chronic slow blood loss and anemia.

Many patients (but not all) with paraesophageal hernias may also suffer from gastroesophageal reflux disease symptoms. GERD by itself is not a reason to repair a paraesophageal hernia. GERD is first treated with medications, and surgery is reserved for those who fail medical management.

For an in-depth discussion on whether a paraesophageal hernia should be repaired, please make an appointment with your physician.

How are paraesophageal hernias repaired?

Currently, most paraesophageal hernias can successfully and safely be repaired robotically (with about 5 very small incisions) and through the abdomen (rather than the chest cavity). The robotic repair of large paraesophageal hernias (most of the stomach resides above the diaphragm in the chest cavity) is a complex procedure and should only be attempted by expert robotic surgeons with extensive experience in robotic foregut surgery.

During surgery, the stomach is gradually moved back into the abdominal cavity. The diaphragm at the esophageal hiatus is closed to prevent the stomach from re-herniating. In some cases, a special kind of mesh is needed to close the diaphragm appropriately. Once the diaphragm has been closed, most patients undergo a fundoplication or a ‘wrap’ similar to what is done for a patient with GERD. The fundoplication is performed to help keep the stomach from herniating back into the chest cavity.

What are the results of paraesophageal hernia repair?

In the hands of experienced surgeons, the results of robotic paraesophageal hernia repair are excellent. A minimally invasive robotic approach results in significantly fewer complications than an open abdominal approach (many small incisions instead of one large incision in an open approach). Most patients are in the hospital for only 1-2 days, and are back to their usual activities within 4 weeks.

Side effects can occur, and are similar to those observed after laparoscopic Nissen fundoplication. Abdominal bloating can occur, but is rarely severe. Difficulty swallowing (dysphagia) is another side effect that tends to improve in most patients with time – provided food is chewed thoroughly. The majority of patients are able to belch easily when necessary; especially once some time has passed following surgery.