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Robotic Surgery: Why Do Our Surgeons Love This?

Robotic Surgery: Why Do Our Surgeons Love This?

With Dr. Mark Abraham

Robotic surgery is becoming more common in Siouxland and across the nation, but what is it exactly? Why should you be aware of this as an option of surgery? We sat down with our very own general surgeon, Dr. Abraham, and asked him why he prefers this method of surgery.

What is Robotic Surgery?

Robotic surgery is a form of laparoscopic surgery that is slightly less invasive and allows for more precision. The surgery is performed with a robotic instrument, known as the da Vinci surgical system, which the physician controls from a console nearby. The surgeon passes the instruments through small incisions. The operation is then performed at a nearby console. It allows the surgeon to achieve more through smaller incisions. This leads to less pain, less time in the hospital, and a faster recovery. In short, it helps get you back to being you faster after surgery.

Robotic surgery has been around for at least 10 years, but with time the technology has improved while the cost has decreased. At Midlands Clinic, our surgeons use robotics to perform abdominal surgeries such as hernia repair, colon surgery, and removal of various tumors from the stomach, pancreas, spleen, and liver. Some other common surgeries such as gallbladder surgery can be performed robotically. It is quickly becoming the most popular form of minimally invasive surgery. Dr. Abraham shares, “Performing a surgery with the robot improves precision and visualization, leading to minimal damage to the tissue. Given that there is less to heal, pain is reduced and recovery times are faster.”

What are the Advantages of Robotic Surgery?     

Robotic surgery is becoming more popular with each new generation of surgeons. In addition to a smoother surgery it also allows the surgeon to take on more complex issues in a minimally invasive fashion. Examples of this include tumors very low in the rectum or very large hernias that would be too difficult to repair laparoscopically. In the past, surgeries such as these would have required large incisions which are not only painful but also increase the risk for infection, scar tissue formation, and future hernias.

Robotic surgery is very beneficial for the surgeon as well! The robotic aspect, controlling the instrument from a device nearby, is more ergonomic for the surgeon as opposed to laparoscopic surgery. He or she is sitting rather than standing, creating a more comfortable space.  Being seated during the surgery is easier on the shoulders and arms which helps reduce fatigue and therefore reduces error. These aspects assist in diminishing the number of hand, wrist, or shoulder injuries commonly seen in surgeons.

Dr. Abraham acknowledges, “Beyond ergonomics, there’s more peace of mind with robotics. I can see better, I can control the instruments better, and I have more control over the surgery in general when I’m using robotics. As a surgeon, having that control helps me leave surgery feeling more confident about the procedure and that helps me sleep better at night.”

Elaborating further, Dr. Abraham explains, “The most important aspect for healing after surgery is blood supply, and robotic instruments actually have built-in technologies that help us visualize the blood supply in real time.” He also notes that this technology has been proven to reduce the risk of leaks in colon surgeries, which can cause serious complications for the patient. Along those lines, did you know that MercyOne Sioux City in partnership with Midlands Clinic surgeons was the only hospital in the region to be rated as high performing for colon cancer surgery by US News and World Report?

Why Don’t All Surgeons Use Robotic Surgery?

“Many surgeons are comfortable with what they do and don’t feel the need to embrace new technology. It takes a lot of time and effort to master robotic surgery. As general surgeons, we are trained to do many things and don’t always come out of training with the ability to perform robotic surgery,” Dr. Abraham explains. Surgeons interested in robotic surgery must complete additional training and perform multiple proctored surgeries before they are cleared to practice robotic surgery on their own. Robotic surgery also poses a large upfront cost. Rest assured, however, the costs of robotic surgery versus other methods are not passed onto the patient.

In conclusion, we want you to be aware that robotic surgery is a more technologically advanced way of performing a laparoscopic surgery. While laparoscopic surgery has been the gold standard for surgeons up to this point, the standard is beginning to move toward robotic surgery.  Robotics benefit the patient with a shorter hospital stay, quicker return to work, and less painful experience. It is more ergonomic for surgeons, creating more peace of mind for them, resulting in peace of mind for the patient as well. This surgery does not differ in cost from the typical laparoscopic surgery for the patient. While adopting robotic surgery, the equipment, and training may appear expensive for surgeons, it is an investment our Siouxland medical community is happy to make as we feel robotic surgery is becoming best practice. So, if you are facing the need for minimally invasive surgery, ask your primary care physician or surgeon about the options available for you!


At Midlands Clinic, we have multiple general surgeons who are trained on this form of surgery! Dr. Volz, Dr. Abraham, Dr. Nemechek and Dr. Welander are our experts, and soon Dr. Hegvik will join them!

For more information call 605-217-5500.   


About our author:

Mark Abraham, MD, FACS, is a General Surgeon at Midlands Clinic. Dr. Abraham is extremely experienced in Robotic Surgery, Hernia Repair, and Dialysis Access procedures. Dr. Abraham received his Bachelor of Science degree at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska and then immediately went on to get his medical degree at University of Nebraska Medical Center. He fulfilled his internship and residency at Gundersen Lutheran Medical Foundation in La Crosse, Wisconsin. He has been practicing general surgery since 2014. He has been one of our valued general surgeons at Midlands Clinic for 6 years. Mark Abraham is currently the Vice President of Midlands Clinic, the Section Chief at the Dunes Surgical Hospital, and the Medical Staff President at MercyOne Siouxland Medical Center after previously being their Surgery Department Chair.