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Robotic surgical system at Oaklawn offers patients new options

Andrew J. Gordon, M.D., has become the area’s first general surgeon to be approved to perform gallbladder surgery through a single incision using the da Vinci Surgical System at Oaklawn Hospital.

Gordon, in practice with Oaklawn Medical Group- General Surgical Associates, has completed specialized robotic training in Celebration City, Fla., and Sunnyvale, Calif. He also has had supervised follow-up training at Oaklawn to receive credentials to use the robotic system.

He has performed more than 1,000 standard gallbladder surgeries and is using the robotic system to perform “single-site” gallbladder removal. As a result, patients are relatively unmarked by the surgery.

“The belly button is a great place to hide a scar,” Gordon said. “By placing the incision in the umbilicus, I can offer the patient a virtually scarless surgery. The incision is typically about 2.5 centimeters [about one inch], which can result in less pain and improvement in patient satisfaction.”

People who suffer from symptoms of gallbladder disease often need to have the gallbladder removed through an operation called a cholecystectomy. Generally, such an operation is performed using manual laparoscopy, a technique in which the surgeon uses up to four small incisions to access the gallbladder.

“With the new advancements in robotic surgery that are available, we are able to take laparoscopic surgery for gallbladder disease even further,” Gordon said.

The da Vinci Surgical System gives the surgeon the ability to make surgery even less invasive than before.

“Removing the gallbladder through one incision can give the patient a potential benefit of less pain and a faster recovery,” Gordon said.

Although often called a robot, the da Vinci system does nothing on its own. Instead, it relies on the skills of the surgeon, who performs the entire operation. The surgeon gains access into the patient’s abdomen through an incision and places a single port that provides access for the camera

and instruments. These then are “docked” to the robot.

The surgeon controls the system while sitting at a separate console in the operating room. He inserts his hands into devices that communicate directly with the surgical instruments and miniature camera he inserted into the patient.

At the console, the surgeon views a three-dimensional, high-definition image of the surgical area and controls the instruments via the hand controllers as well as foot pedals.

By translating the surgeon’s hand movements to the robotic instruments, the da Vinci Surgical System enables the surgeon to perform the operation with unmatched precision.

For the patient, this can mean significantly less pain, less scarring, a shorter recovery time and thus a faster return to normal daily activities, Gordon said.

“Anybody who’s getting his or her gallbladder out can be considered for single-site surgery,” Gordon said, “but not every patient is a candidate for single-site cholecystectomy. These include patients with acute gallbladder disease or morbid obesity, or with a history of multiple abdominal surgeries.

“It’s a determination we make on the first visit,” he said.

In 2004, Oaklawn Hospital became only the third hospital in Michigan to purchase a da Vinci Surgical System. In 2010 Oaklawn updated its da Vinci model and now performs multiple da Vinci surgeries each week.

Gordon, who joined Oaklawn’s active medical staff in 1997, completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Michigan and received his medical degree from Wayne State University. He completed his surgical residency at the Western Pennsylvania Hospital in Pittsburgh. He is certified by the American Board of Surgery and is a fellow of the American College of Surgeons.

Gordon may be contacted through Oaklawn Medical Group- General Surgical Associates P.C., 215 E. Mansion St., Suite 3E, in Marshall, by calling (269) 781-4267 or visiting Additional information about the robotic equipment may be found at