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Format: 04/23/2014
Format: 04/23/2014


Robotic Surgery at Forbes Regional Hospital Advances Healthcare in the Eastern Suburbs

Thursday, March 21st, 2013

For Mary Valentine, 69, of Murrysville, the difference between traditional open surgery and robotic-assisted minimally invasive surgery was remarkable. Ms. Valentine had a robotic-assisted hysterectomy and bladder repair surgery at Forbes Regional Hospital in January, under the care of surgeon Mark Rubino, MD.

“Typically someone at Mary’s age with this type of surgery would need four to six weeks to fully recover,” said Dr. Rubino, Chief Medical Officer at Forbes. “She was a very educated patient, however, who explored her options and decided a robotic minimally invasive technique was worth pursuing.”

She was discharged in less than 24 hours after her procedure and back to normal activities within seven days of her surgery, Dr. Rubino said.

Mary’s biggest fear was the unknown. “I did not know what to expect, but after discussing the robotic procedure and its benefits with Dr. Rubino I felt much more comfortable,” she said.

Mary's husband, Raymond, was also very supportive and did his homework in researching the new technology prior to Mary making a decision. He too was amazed at her quick recovery.

“The hardest part was that she was trying to do too much because she felt well enough. I could not believe it,” he said. Mary took only ibuprofen for the pain the following day and never had to fill the prescription for stronger pain killers.

“I feel great and I am just very thankful for the care I received at Forbes,” she said.

One year in, the robotic surgery program at Forbes Regional continues to grow. To date, Forbes physicians have completed 170 robot-assisted surgeries. The most common procedures performed robotically are colon resections, single site cholecystectomies, hysterectomies and other gynecological procedures, such as endometriosis resections.

Last year, Forbes became just the second hospital in the region (joining sister institution Allegheny General Hospital) to launch a robotic cardiac surgery program, using the technology to perform single vessel bypass procedures. Moving forward, the hospital plans to expand its thoracic and urological robotic surgery capabilities as well.

Eight physicians at Forbes have been certified to perform robotic procedures; James McCormick, MD, colorectal surgery; Peter Naman, MD, surgery; Mark Rubino, MD gynecology; Diem Nguyen, MD, gynecology; Mike Pelekanos, MD, gynecology; Bernard Peticca, MD, gynecology; Michael Culig, MD, cardiothoracic surgery; and Leonard Selednik, MD, gynecology.

Originally developed by NASA for operating remotely on astronauts in space and used by the Department of Defense to operate on soldiers in the battlefield, the da Vinci System is comprised of two primary components, a remote console that accommodates the surgeon and a five armed robot that is positioned at the patient’s side.

Sitting comfortably at the console several feet away from the operating room table, the surgeon maneuvers da Vinci's robotic arms and views the surgical field through a high resolution, three dimensional endoscopic camera mounted on one of them.

The System seamlessly and precisely translates the surgeon’s natural hand, wrist and finger movements from controls at the console to the robotic surgical instruments inside the body. A specially trained surgical team stationed at the bedside helps facilitate the operation.

“We have known for decades that laparoscopic and minimally invasive surgical approaches for colon and rectal surgery produce far better outcomes than traditional open, large-incision surgery. Robotic technology advances this capability tremendously, providing vastly improved visualization of the operative field and superior dexterity that allows movement of surgical instruments in areas that have often been considered difficult to access,” said Dr. McCormick, Vice Chair, Department of Surgery at Forbes.

“The da Vinci Robotic Surgical System frankly allows me to offer a better procedure with a better outcome to more patients,” he said.

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