Houston Northwest Medical Center Surgeons Remove Gallbladder through Belly Button Incision with da Vinci® System

Houston, Texas – March 18, 2014 -- A surgical team at Houston Northwest Medical Center performed their first da Vinci® Single-Site Cholecystectomy on March 18, 2014.  The patient’s gallbladder was removed through one tiny incision in the belly button, making the procedure virtually scarless.

Led by Khwaja Azimuddin, M.D., FASCRS, the team removed the gallbladder using Single-Site™instruments on a da Vinci® Surgical System. The minimally invasive procedure is traditionally called a laparoscopic cholecystectomy (removal of the gallbladder). Using robotic assistance, surgeons removed the gallbladder through an incision of approximately one inch.

The Food and Drug Administration cleared the specialized Single-Site instruments for use with the da Vinci Surgical System in December 2011.

"Neither robotic-assisted surgery nor single-incision surgery is new, but combining the two to remove the gallbladder requires additional training and special equipment," says Dr. Azimuddin. "To offer this technically advanced surgery demonstrates Houston Northwest Medical Center’s leadership in providing patients with the most minimally invasive surgical options."

Dr. Azimuddin is one of a group of surgeons in the country who has received training to perform the surgery.

Single-Site instruments used with the da Vinci Surgical System are the next step in the evolution of surgical technologies,” Dr. Azimuddin said. “We are truly excited to be a leader today in the surgical treatment of tomorrow.”

Potential benefits of Single-Site gallbladder surgery may include virtually scarless surgery, minimal pain, low blood loss, fast recovery, a short hospital stay and high patient satisfaction.

During the procedure, the surgeon sits comfortably at a console, viewing a 3D, high-definition image of the patient’s anatomy. The surgeon uses controls below the viewer to move the instrument arms and camera.  In real-time, the system translates the surgeon's hand, wrist and finger movements into more precise movements of the miniaturized instruments inside the patient.

Unlike traditional robotic surgeries requiring three to five small incisions, this technology allows for a single incision in the belly button where instruments are placed and the diseased gallbladder is removed.

Most people who require gallbladder removal are candidates for the robotic-assisted, single-incision surgery. According to the American College of Surgeons, surgery is the recommended treatment for gallbladder pain from gallstones and non-functioning gallbladders.

More than 1 million people in the U.S. have their gallbladder removed each year. Most are performed with traditional laparoscopy using several incisions.

Potential risks include conversion to other surgical techniques and multiple incisions. All surgery presents risk, including da Vinci Surgery. Serious complications may occur in any surgery, up to and including death.  Other risks include injury to tissues and organs. Risks specific to gallbladder surgery, including surgery with da Vinci, include pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas); urinary retention and hernia (bulging tissue) at the incision site.

Houston Northwest Medical Center offers various types of robotic-assisted surgeries at its facility located at 710 Cypress Creek Parkway, Houston, TX 77090. In addition to gallbladder removal, Houston Northwest Medical Center surgeons perform robotic-assisted surgery in gynecologic, urologic, cardiac, thoracic, general surgeries and Colon and Rectal surgery.  Houston Northwest Medical Center also offers a wide range of minimally invasive conventional laparoscopic surgeries.