A little over a year ago a local hospital opened its robotic surgery suite. Since then, doctors at Conemaugh Memorial Medical Center have performed more than 800 procedures.
"I love the robotics . It allows the surgeons to deliver quality care to a complex patient," says Dr. Ann Marie Sterlin, an obstetrician/gynecologist at Conemaugh and also the chairperson of robotic surgery. She proudly says more than 300 gyencological procedures have been done robotically in the past year at the hospital.
"The patients report less incisional pain, they are able to return to their function far better. I've had patients tell me they can go out to dinner in a day or after they had a robotic procedure," she reports.
Hysterecomies account for most of her robotic procedures. She also treats adhesions, which can occur after surgery, and endometriosis.
Doctor Sterlin says, "you see better because it's a 3D image, also the insturments have 360 degree rotation."
She says robotically assisted surgery works particularly well with heavier patients, those who need to have a larger mass removed, and women who've had have no previous surgeries or no vaginal deliveries.
As chairman of the department Dr. Sterlin oversees other robotic procedures including gallbladder removal, gastric bypass, and lung surgeries. Memorial physicians are now training to do robotic heart and cancer surgeries.
"I think the great accomplishment for me," Dr. Sterlin says, " is if I see someone I would need to open and I send them home the next day , in two weeks,they're going back to work."
Some patients will still need laparascopic surgery or conventional open procedures. But in the right patient, Dr. Sterlin says robotic surgery can mean a quicker less painful recovery.