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Russell Milligan
Saint Joseph Hospital


Saint Joseph Hospital Surgeon Removes Gallbladder Robotically with One Incision

Surgery offer better cosmetic results, potentially less pain and faster recovery

Chicago, Ill. – May 25, 2012 – When Deidra Roberson, Ed.D., first learned she needed her gallbladder removed, she didn’t know the diseased organ would be taken out via robotic surgery in a single incision in her navel.

On March 27, Saint Joseph Hospital made the Chicago record books as the second healthcare provider in Cook County to offer robotic single-site cholecystectomy, which is removal of the gallbladder through one belly button incision. Roberson was one of two patients at Saint Joseph Hospital to have the breakthrough robotic surgery that day.

Surgeon Rami Lutfi, MD, FACS (photo at right), made a single incision in the patient's navel. Then, using the robotic arm, he inserted a camera and special tiny curved instruments to cut and remove the gallbladder through the small opening. He completed the minimally invasive procedure in about one hour using the da Vinci Si Surgical System, which blends computer, robotic and surgical technologies.

"Normally, laparoscopic gallbladder surgery requires about four incisions in the stomach area, which could leave undesirable scars," Dr. Lutfi said. "Patient benefits from the single-incision robotic surgery include better cosmetic results, potentially less pain and faster recovery."

Roberson, who has a doctorate in educational psychology and has worked as a school psychologist for more than 30 years, had two painful gallbladder attacks in February and continued to have stomach pain, gas and body aches. After a visit to her primary care physician and several tests, her doctor recommended a visit to Dr. Lutfi.

“Dr. Lutfi told me about single-incision robotic surgery and I said OK – I had faith,” said Roberson (photo at right), who resides in Chicago’s Chatham/Avalon neighborhood. “Paramount on my mind – having had several prior stomach surgeries – was that it would be an easier recovery. I had two surgeries and they were not a walk in the park.”  

“The robotic single-incision gallbladder procedure went very well,” said Dr. Lutfi, who has performed three single incision robotic gallbladder surgeries to date.

Dr. Lutfi said the patient had a medical condition related to her lung that required her to stay overnight, otherwise, she would have been ready to go home couple of hours after surgery.

During the surgery, Dr. Lutfi sits at a console next to the robot and controls the robotic arms with his hands. The equipment also features a monitor that provides 3-dimensional visualization, which enhances accuracy and control so the physician can easily remove the gallbladder. The robotic equipment also allows the surgeon to have access to hard-to-reach areas.

“I live in a tri-level house and was going up and down the stairs within a few days,” she said. “The hardest thing was getting in and out of bed.” Within a few days, she also was cooking her own meals and doing laundry. Roberson opted for surgery during spring break at school, so she wouldn’t miss much work.

One week after the procedure, Roberson visited Dr. Lutfi for a follow-up exam. Roberson played it safe and returned to school about two weeks after surgery – knowing that she has to carry a heavy briefcase in her job. She missed only three days of work following spring break.

“Minus the lung issue, I wouldn’t hesitate to have the surgery again,” said Roberson, noting she had some soreness around the navel. Roberson said she would recommend the procedure.

The surgery can be performed on men and women who have gallstones, or a diseased gallbladder without stones, that needs to be removed due to pain.

"There is little pain with this procedure because there is only one cut and there is no scar – which  is appealing to many patients," said Dr. Lutfi, who is certified by Intuitive Surgical, which manufactures the robotic system. "The patient can resume normal activities within a few days."

About Saint Joseph Hospital

Saint Joseph Hospital is a nationally ranked, award-winning teaching hospital serving Chicago’s lake shore communities. It is home to many world-renowned physicians and advanced medical technologies. For more information, visit

About Provena Health – Resurrection Health Care, Now Joined as Presence Health

Saint Joseph Hospital is part of Presence Health, a family of Catholic, not-for profit, healthcare services providing advanced medical care and exceptional service with compassion and hope. With locations in Chicago and its collar counties, as well as in East-Central Illinois, it is the largest Catholic health provider in Illinois, encompassing 12 hospitals, 27 long term care and senior residential facilities, numerous outpatient services, clinics, home health services, hospice, private duty, and comprehensive Behavioral Health services. Presence Health is sponsored by the Franciscan Sisters of the Sacred Heart, the Servants of the Holy Heart of Mary, the Sisters of the Holy Family, Sisters of Mercy of the Americas and the Sisters of the Resurrection. Visit to learn more.


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