Robotic hands may not be able to feel their way around a patient during surgery, but they have changed the face of surgical medicine. Surgeries that once required large incisions, days or weeks in the hospital and months of recovery time are now completed using tiny holes, camera-guided instruments, and robotic interfaces. For Dr. Sami Kilic, robotics is the answer for pregnant women with incompetent cervixes that threaten the viability and health of the pregnancy.

Dr. Sami Kilic is a medical pioneer. The surgeon is the chief of minimally invasive research and gynecology at the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) in Galveston, Texas. When a patient presented with an incompetent cervix that threatened her pregnancy, he was forced to make a serious decision. Complete cervical cerclage using traditional methods requiring a large incision or find another safer way. The doctor chose the safer route and used robotics to perform a minimally invasive procedure that helped the patient remain pregnant until the start of labor in the 36th week.

Kilic used the da Vinci robotic surgical system and a real-time ultrasound to guide his surgery. He sutured the cervix in hopes of prolonging the pregnancy. The patient stayed in the hospital 24 hours after surgery, which required just three tiny holes as opposed to one large incision. Just two weeks later an ultrasound revealed the cerclage was perfectly placed. The remaining weeks of pregnancy were uneventful until labor began in week 36.

This is the first robotic cervical procedure of its kind due to the dual screen technology Dr. Kilic used. The doctor was able to see both the ultrasound and robotic camera views simultaneously; something that decreases the risk, according to Dr. Kilic. The full outline of the procedure and corresponding medical data was published in the Journal of Minimally Invasive Gynecology.

Cervical cerclage is a dangerous procedure that can lead to hemorrhage or miscarriage if performed incorrectly. The procedure is reserved for pregnant patients with an incompetent or short cervix who would not be able to carry the pregnancy to term without the cerclage procedure.

Source: University of Texas Medical Branch.

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