Pascal Spehar, MD, a general surgeon at Centerpoint Medical Center performed the first single-site robotic-assisted cholecystectomy (gallbladder removal surgery) in Missouri today. Dr. Spehar is among the very first surgeons in the United States to perform this procedure, which was made possible through a new FDA-approved single-site advancement to the da Vinci® Robotic Surgical System.

Each year, about one million people in the United States undergo gallbladder removal surgery. Of that number, 40 percent of these patients are women, ages 18 to 44. With this new single-site robotic procedure, patients can now have their gallbladder removed in about the same amount of time as a lunch break and be home in time for dinner with minimal discomfort and potentially no visible scar.

The single-site robotic-assisted cholecystectomy is performed using a single incision through the belly button. “One of the greatest advantages of having the robotic assistance for single-incision surgery is being able to offer this minimally invasive and virtually scarless surgery to more of my patients,” said Dr. Spehar.

“The robotic system gives me the ability to not only operate through one small incision and through a natural body opening, like the umbilicus, but it gives me the precision and three-dimensional, high definition vision system to enhance surgical capabilities.”

Intuitive Surgical, Inc. received FDA-approval on the new operating platform for the da Vinci® Robotic Surgical System specifically for cholecystectomy procedures. The system enables surgeons to reduce the traditional four to six incisions to one incision that is less than an inch in length.

Centerpoint Medical Center currently has 12 physicians who use the the da Vinci® Robotic Surgical System for a variety of minimally invasive robotic surgical procedures, including urological, gynecological and general surgery. Centerpoint acquired its first da Vinci® Robotic Surgical System in February 2011 and upgraded the robotic system to the Si model in December 2011.