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Robotic Surgery at Drexel Medicine

For most people, the thought of "going under the knife" may be scary. But it doesn't have to be anymore. That's because Drexel surgeons now offer robotic surgery, a safe and effective minimally invasive alternative to both traditional open and laparoscopic surgery for a wide range of complex surgical procedures.

When performing robotic surgery, the surgeon makes a series of quarter-inch incisions and then uses the robotically assisted surgical system which translates his or her hand movements into smaller, more precise movements of tiny instruments inside your body. A high-definition 3D camera provides the surgeon with excellent visualization during the procedure, and patented EndoWrist® instruments and Intuitive® motion allow for unparalleled precision, dexterity, and control.

Drexel Surgery is on the forefront of robotic surgery. We're one of only a handful of surgical teams in Philadelphia that has access to the da Vinci® Surgical System, the most advanced robotically assisted surgical systems available to health care professionals.

If your doctor recommends surgery to treat your symptoms or condition, your procedure may be done robotically.

Drexel surgeons use the da Vinci System in several surgical specialties including:

  • Gastrointestinal
  • Colorectal
  • Gynecology
  • General Surgery

Robotic surgery offers many benefits to patients compared to traditional open procedures, including:

  • Less pain
  • Less risk of infection
  • Less blood loss and blood transfusion
  • Less scarring
  • Shorter hospital stay
  • Faster recovery
  • Quicker return to normal activity

Conditions We Treat

Drexel surgeons use robotic surgery to treat a wide range of conditions, including:

Colorectal Cancer

Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in men and women in the United States, affecting 140,000 people annually. Robotic surgery for resection of the colon enhances visualization for the surgeon in difficult places like the deep pelvis, allowing for greater precision and reduced blood loss. This approach also allows for sphincter-preserving surgery which avoids the need for permanent colostomies in most cases.

Robotic resection

In this procedure, the surgeon performs a partial colectomy (removing the cancer and a small amount of healthy tissue around it), sometimes followed by an anastomosis (suturing the healthy parts of the colon together). The surgeon will also usually remove lymph nodes near the colon to determine whether they contain cancer.

Robotic resection and colostomy

If it's not possible to suture the healthy parts of the colon together after a resection, a colostomy is performed in which a stoma (opening) is made on the outside of the body for waste to pass through. Sometimes the colostomy is a temporary solution until the lower colon has healed, and then it can be reversed. If the doctor needs to remove the entire lower colon, however, the colostomy may be permanent.

Meet Our Surgeons

Juan Lucas Poggio, MD, MS, FACS, FASCRS
Michael C. Marcucci, MD, FACS

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Gastrointestinal Disorders

Drexel surgeons are skilled in minimally invasive robot-assisted procedures for several gastrointestinal conditions, including gall bladder disease, gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD), achalasia, and hernias.

Gall bladder disease

Surgical removal of the gall bladder, or cholecystectomy, may be recommended to control or eliminate severe gall bladder symptoms such as pain and digestive problems. Drexel Surgeons offer the most advanced robotic surgery available today for gall bladder removal called single site robotic cholecystectomy.

Single site robotic cholecystectomy is a state-of-the-art minimally invasive procedure performed through a single small incision in the navel. After recovery, patients have virtually no scar.

Gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD)

GERD is a digestive disorder that affects the lower esophageal sphincter (the ring of muscle between the esophagus and stomach), causing stomach acid to flow back up the esophagus. This backwash of acid causes one of the most common symptoms of GERD --- heartburn.

According to a report by the National Institutes of Health, twenty percent of the U.S. population has symptoms of GERD on a weekly basis, and more than three million people are hospitalized because of it annually. People with severe, chronic esophageal reflux may need surgery if their symptoms are not relieved by medications and/or lifestyle changes, such as weight loss, dietary restrictions and smoking cessation. If left untreated, chronic gastroesophageal reflux can cause complications such as esophageal ulcers, bleeding, Barrett's esophagus, or esophageal cancer.

Robotic Nissen fundoplication is a robotic procedure to correct GERD. The surgeon wraps the upper part of the stomach (fundus) around the lower esophagus to create an antireflux valve. This allows food and drink to go down into the stomach but prevents stomach contents from flowing back up into the esophagus.

Achalasia (swallowing disorder)

Achalasia is a disorder of the esophagus that makes it difficult for an individual to swallow solid or liquid foods. It occurs when the esophageal sphincter muscle (located between the esophagus and the stomach) does not relax normally, making it hard for food to pass from the esophagus into the stomach. Most doctors recommend surgery as the best way to improve this condition.

Robotic Heller myotomy is a robotic procedure to correct achalasia, in which the circular muscle of the lower esophagus is cut and divided. This results in decreased pressure on the lower esophageal sphincter muscle which makes swallowing easier. Compared to traditional open surgery through a large incision in the abdomen or side of the chest, patients undergoing a robotic Heller myotomy usually experience a faster and easier recovery and less pain.

Paraesophageal Hernia (PEH)

This is a type of hernia in which the stomach and possibly other organs herniate through a defect in the diaphragm in the chest. This can also be called a "hiatal hernia" and may be associated with symptoms of reflux, heart burn, difficulty swallowing or shortness of breath. Robotic parasesophageal hernia repair offers surgeons improved dexterity in the narrow space of the diaphragm.

Meet our Surgeons

Michael C. Marcucci, MD, FACS
Elizabeth Renza-Stingone, MD, FACS

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Robotic surgery can be used to treat a number of gynecologic conditions, including endometriosis, heavy uterine bleeding, uterine fibroids, and ovarian cysts, among others. Drexel Surgery uses the da Vinci® Surgical System robotics to perform majority of gynecologic surgical procedures.

Robotic hysterectomy

A simple hysterectomy – removal of the uterus – is the most common surgery to treat benign gynecologic conditions such as heavy bleeding, fibroids, endometriosis and pelvic prolapse. Robotic hysterectomy provides the surgeon with enhanced visualization of the blood vessels, ureters, and surrounding tissue during surgery. Smaller incisions result in less scarring and less pain following surgery. Most patients undergoing robotic hysterectomy can resume normal activities within two to three weeks, compared to six to eight weeks for open surgery.

Robotic myomectomy

This minimally invasive procedure is performed to remove uterine fibroids that are causing symptoms such as pelvic pain and heavy bleeding. Robotic myomectomy provides the surgeon with superior visualization of the fibroids and surrounding tissue and enhances the surgeon's ability to suture the uterus.

Robotic ovarian cystectomy

Robotic surgery provides many advantages in delicate surgical procedures such as this to remove benign ovarian cysts, while leaving the ovaries intact. The enhanced visualization provided by the da Vinci Surgical System's 3D high-definition camera facilitates precise removal of ovarian cysts.

Meet Our Surgeon

Minda A. Green, MD

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General Surgery

Ventral and Inguinal Hernia

A ventral hernia is the result of a hole in the abdominal wall. These defects can be located at the navel (umbilical hernia), in the midline of the abdomen between the navel and breastbone (epigastric hernia), or through any previous surgical incision in the abdominal wall that fails to heal completely (incisional hernia). Surgery is usually recommended.

An inguinal hernia is a dect in abdominal wall in the groin.

Robotic ventral hernia repair enhances the surgeon's ability to suture the hole closed in locations that are difficult to reach with traditional laparoscopic instruments. Robotic hernia repair has also been shown to reduce the higher recurrence rate associated with open repair.

Meet Our Surgeons

Michael C. Marcucci, MD, FACS
Elizabeth Renza-Stingone, MD, FACS

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Adrenal Conditions

Removal of an adrenal gland, a procedure called adrenalectomy, may be required in cases of a benign functional tumor or adrenal cancer.

Robotic adrenalectomy

The superior visualization and precision provided by the da Vinci surgical system are ideally suited to the delicate aspects of a radical adrenalectomy, including isolating the adrenal gland from surrounding organs and structures and controlling multiple arteries and veins supplying the adrenal gland and tumor.

Hematologic disorders

Removal of the spleen may be required as treatment for certain conditions such as blood cancers, liver cirrhosis, splenic tumors, blood-clotting disorders or traumatic injury.

Robotic splenectomy

Robotic surgery enhances the surgeon's ability to perform challenging splenectomies such as those involving massive enlargement of the spleen, portal hypertension, partial splenectomy, splenic malignancies or blood cancers. The robotic system's superior visualization, maneuverability and motion control allows greater precision in dissection of the splenic vessels.

Meet Our Surgeon

Michael C. Marcucci, MD, FACS

The information on these pages is provided for general information only and should not be used for diagnosis or treatment, or as a substitute for consultation with a physician or health care professional. If you have specific questions or concerns about your health, you should consult your health care professional.

The images being used are for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted is a model.

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