Monday, April 05, 2010 - South Florida’s First Single-Incision Robot-Assisted Laparoscopic Total Hysterectomy Performed at Broward Health Imperial Point Medical Center

Dr. Lanalee Araba Sam recently performed South Florida’s first single-incision robot-assisted laparoscopic hysterectomy at Imperial Point Medical Center (IPMC). Sitting at a console several feet from her patient, Tracey de Jager, Dr. Sam used a high-powered camera with three-dimensional imaging to guide robotic arms equipped with micro-surgical instruments through one small incision in the patient’s belly button to perform the hysterectomy. Today, that scar is virtually invisible.

This latest evolution of minimally invasive surgery gives the 650,000 women who receive hysterectomies each year an even less invasive option with shorter hospital stays, less pain, faster recoveries, less risk of wound infection, less blood loss and less scarring.

Amazingly, almost 85% of the 650,000 hysterectomies performed each year are still done with traditional open gynecologic surgery that uses a large incision for access to the uterus and surrounding anatomy. This method has been the standard approach for many years, but it comes with significant pain and a long recovery process.

Dr. Sam is committed to letting patients know that there are other options available to them so that they can make more informed decisions about the best surgical approach for them.

“It’s my goal to educate patients about their options,” said Dr. Sam. “And this single-incision robot-assisted technique is a great option for lots of women.”

While nationally, only 15% of hysterectomies are done using a minimally invasive method, in Dr. Sam’s practice, more then 90% are performed using a minimally invasive technique. And now she is the first physician in South Florida to perform a single-incision robot-assisted laparoscopic total hysterectomy using the da Vinci robot at Imperial Point Medical Center. She removed the uterus with the aid of the robot using a small incision in the belly button.

“We are very pleased to be able to offer physicians and their patients access to the da Vinci robot,” said Calvin Glidewell, CEO at IPMC. “Investing in new technologies such as the da Vinci is important as we strive to provide our community with access to healthcare options that improve patient outcomes.”

Tracey de Jager’s struggles with heavy periods had gotten so bad that Tracey was anemic and in need of blood transfusions. The traditional open hysterectomy she had scheduled was cancelled at the last minute by her doctor who was concerned about her low blood count and thought the surgery would be too risky. Discouraged, Tracey took to the internet and found Dr. Sam. Her gynecologist helped her set up a consultation and to her great relief, Dr. Sam felt confident she was a good candidate for minimally invasive surgery.

“With the first surgery I had scheduled I’d arranged to use most of my vacation time to recover and was prepared for a lot of pain,” said de Jager. “That cancellation was such a blessing in disguise. In the end I was able to have Dr. Sam perform the surgery with the da Vinci robot at Imperial Point and I was walking that night and back to work in a week.”

Using high-resolution 3D visualization and computerized instrumentation, the da Vinci system scales, filters and translates the surgeon's hand movements into more precise movements with improved dexterity and increased precision and control. The system's 3D cameras provide magnification 10 times that of the naked eye, while the instruments offer an increased range of motion.

This capability is great news for patients with complex cases that in the past may have required a traditional open procedure due to the level of visibility and precision needed. The da Vinci Surgical System now enables such cases to be performed using this minimally invasive approach, resulting in shorter recovery times and fewer complications.

“The robot provides us with a 3D view of the surgical field and full maneuverability of the instruments,” said Dr. Sam. “It allows the instruments to perform actions that are normally difficult or impossible by hand.”

Broward Health, providing service for more than 50 years, is a nationally recognized system offering world class health care services to our neighbors in South Florida. One of the five largest public health systems in the nation, Broward Health includes Broward General Medical Center, North Broward Medical Center, Imperial Point Medical Center, Coral Springs Medical Center, Chris Evert Children’s Hospital, Broward Health Weston and more than 30 facilities of the Community Health Services and Broward Health Physician Group. For more information visit