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Healthy Living Blog

Robotic-Assisted Hernia Repair Surgery Helps Patients Live Pain-Free


Kelly PortraitKelly Gregory was living an active lifestyle and enjoying life with his fiancée until he needed appendicitis surgery in 2010. Just three months later, Kelly began experiencing a different kind of pain — an umbilical hernia. His stomach was so tender, even his shirt rubbing against him caused pain.

Prior Surgeries

Unfortunately, an infection kept him from being treated surgically for a year after the appendicitis. Living with the pain was difficult, but Kelly made it through, and in January 2012, he underwent his first hernia operation. The infection lingered, making it difficult to fully repair the hernia. After a long recovery, Kelly returned to normal life.

Inevitably, the symptoms returned, but this time even worse. Kelly noticed his stomach was bulging out, causing unbearable pain against his shirt. He chose to consult a different physician from the previous surgery to determine whether any new options were available. With the infection finally cleared up, Kelly underwent his second hernia repair in 2014, getting a mesh inserted to strengthen the abdominal wall.

Fisher-Titus Offers a New Option

In 2015, the symptoms returned. Kelly couldn’t eat without having an upset stomach. The pain of wearing clothing was back. With two previous hernia surgeries, he was willing to try whatever it took to repair his third hernia in five years. He chose robotic-assisted surgery at Fisher-Titus with Dr. Michael Nill, and the procedure was done in early 2016.

It was his first surgery at Fisher-Titus. Kelly’s fiancée recommended Dr. Nill, and he felt comfortable with Dr. Nill right away. After the CT scan indicated another tear in the abdominal wall, Dr. Nill presented Kelly with the option to undergo robotic-assisted hernia repair surgery.

Robotic-Assisted Surgery: The Difference

The benefit of this technique over the laparoscopic surgery is the precision of the procedure itself. In a conventional laparoscopic operation, a camera is inserted inside the patient to enable the surgeon to see inside, and the instruments are inserted into other openings made. The surgeon must look at the camera, which is made visible on a screen in the operating room, and looking away from the hands doing the work to the screen can compromise precision. With the da Vinci robot used in the robotic-assisted surgery, the surgeon views the operation site on the patient through the vision system. The system magnifies the surgical site much clearer than what can be seen with the naked eye, and allows the surgeon to perform movements without looking away from the patient.

Unlike humans, the robot does not experience hand tremors and unsteadiness, allowing the procedure to be done with solid precision and accuracy. Unlike a human performing the surgery, the robot is not susceptible to dexterity issues, fatigue or shaking. The “hands” of the robot mirror the motions of the surgeon, eliminating these human fallacies.

Success at Last

“With my previous two surgeries, I was down and out for around 30 days each time. With robotic-assisted surgery through Dr. Nill, I was off my pain medication in three days,” says Kelly. “I never finished the bottle.”

It’s been nearly a year since the surgery, and Kelly hasn’t experienced any issues at all relating to the surgery. He doesn’t feel symptoms that would indicate the hernia coming back. He’s healed well — inside and out — and although he doesn’t need to see Dr. Nill now for some time, would ultimately go back if needed.

“Everyone at Fisher-Titus makes you feel at home. They come in, they talk to you, they make you feel relaxed. The respect Dr. Nill and everyone else I encountered was unbelievable. When you’re facing a health condition, it’s important to be shown compassion, and I got that feeling from the start at Fisher-Titus,” says Kelly.

Are you experiencing symptoms you believe could be an umbilical hernia? Contact us today to schedule an appointment with one of our physicians.

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