Canadian first: Robotic single-site gallbladder removal

A da Vinci single-site cholecystectomy, or gallbladder removal, was performed at London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC) for the first time in Canada on September 13 by Dr. Christopher Schlachta, medical director, Canadian Surgical Technologies and Advanced Robotics (CSTAR).

“Traditional laparoscopic surgery is performed through four small incisions,” says Dr. Schlachta. “With a single-site robotic surgery, the gallbladder is removed through a single small incision, hidden in the belly button, and patients experience virtually scarless results.”

Patient Melanie Sabino, 33, a nurse from St. Mary’s Ontario, says she felt excited to be offered this surgical option. “I was back to normal in just two days. Without a scar my co-workers don’t believe I’ve had surgery.”

“This technology represents an exciting evolution in robotic surgery. In 25 years, we have gone from big incisions, to a series of small incisions for each of the surgeon’s hands, to this development of just one small, hidden incision. This is a whole new world that we plan to apply to even more complex surgeries including colorectal cancer surgery, anti-reflux surgery, kidney surgery, as well as pancreatic and liver surgeries,” says Dr. Schlachta.

Dr. Anthony Gonzalez, chief of surgery and minimally invasive and robotic surgery at Baptiste Hospital in South Florida was one of the first surgeons in North America to perform single-site robotic surgery and has since performed 300 single-site gallbladder removals robotically. “Having this surgical option available in Canada is an important first step in offering patients nearly scarless surgery with other more complex surgeries.”