Samantha Lane, da Vinci Robotic Surgery, Gallbladder

One Tiny Incision Offers Exciting Alternative to Major Abdominal Surgery

It all started with eggs.

Soon after her son Mason was born in November 2010, Samantha Lane could no longer eat eggs with out being sick. She dismissed the change, assuming that it was the result of hormonal changes following the pregnancy.

But over time, the 28-year-old Vicksburg resident began reacting to different foods. “It got progressively worse,” said Samantha, manager of Motor and Drive sales for HECO Inc. Industrial Service Groups in Kalamazoo. “It got so that everything I ate caused attacks in the middle of the night. I finally went to the emergency room and an ultrasound showed that I had gallstones.”

Her personal physician, Dr. Jack Hunt, referred herto surgeon, Dr. James Babel, with Borgess Surgical Specialties. Dr. Babel is a specialist in robotic surgery. He examined Samantha’s ultrasound images and offered her the opportunity to be Kalamazoo’s first patient to undergo gallbladder removal using a tiny single-incision.

“Dr. Babel said that I was a perfect candidate for the operation,” said Samantha. “I said, ‘Why not?”

Robotic Technique Delivers Minimal Pain, Faster Recovery

On June 15, Samantha underwent single-incision at Borgess Medical Center.

“I was the talk of the hospital,” she said. “The chief of surgery even came by to say hi.”

Dr. Babel used the da Vinci® Robotic Surgical System’s latest innovation. The new technology allows for a tiny, single incision within the belly button where instruments are placed and the diseased gallbladder is removed.

During the procedure, Dr. Babel viewed 3-D, high- definition images while using controls to move robotic arms with attached surgical instruments. The system translated his hand, wrist and finger movements into precise, real-time movements of surgical instruments inside the patient. Benefits of the single-incision robotic surgery include minimal scarring, less pain, less bleeding, faster recovery and a shorter hospital stay, enhanced quality and safety, as well as greater patient satisfaction.

“When I woke up in recovery, I didn’t feel any pain,” Samantha said. “I used a mild pain-reliever but I didn’t need any stronger pain pills.” Surgery was on a Friday and Samantha was back at work the following Monday.

“It was really easy,” Samantha said. “I was a little sore and my stomach was a little swollen, but it was no problem. Everybody at Borgess was super-nice and Dr. Babel is really nice.

“And I can eat eggs again!”

Leading the Way to Better Care

Dr. Babel received specialized training in Houston, Texas, and also at Borgess Medical Center to become one of the first Michigan surgeons to perform this cutting-edge procedure.

“To be one of the first hospitals to offer this technologically advanced surgery demonstrates leadership by Borgess in providing patients minimally invasive surgical options,” Dr. Babel said. “I appreciate the support and assistance of a great team of Borgess surgical professionals.”

“These new surgical approaches are technically demanding and we applaud Dr. Babel, and other Borgess surgeons, nurses and technicians, for continually upgrading their skills,” said Debra Thompson, Administrative Director, Borgess Surgical Services.
The multi-million dollar da Vinci® Robotic Surgical System was a result of a gift to the Borgess Foundation from a small group of anonymous donors. “We want to sincerely thank these generous Borgess supporters, said Thompson. “This new technology is truly helping healers heal our patients.”

“This single-incision surgical procedure is another vivid example of where modern health care is going,” Dr. Babel said. According to Babel, Samantha left Borgess Medical Center and returned home shortly after the surgery, hours before the staff members who provided care completed their day.

The Borgess Robotic Surgery Program offers many types of advanced surgery. In addition to gallbladder removal, Borgess surgeons perform robotic-assisted surgery for gynecology, general surgery, urology and cancer-related conditions. Borgess also offers a wide range of non- robotic, minimally invasive laparoscopic surgeries.