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  • To heal fast, busy mom with MS chooses robotic surgery in Tacoma

    With three young children waiting at home, Janelle Winstead didn’t have time for a long recovery after surgery.

    So when her gallbladder needed to be removed, the Tacoma mother was thankful she had the option to choose daVinci robotic surgery just down the street at MultiCare Allenmore Hospital in Tacoma, Wash.

    “I needed to be home with my three little ones, instead of spending time at a hospital,” Janelle said this week while her 4-year-old son played in the water at the sprayground at Jefferson Park in Tacoma. “I healed so much quicker.”

    Janelle also noticed an added benefit of the robotic surgery, which allowed her gallbladder to be removed through one tiny incision in her navel.

    “My bellybutton is cuter now than it was before,” she said with a laugh. “I have no scarring. It looks like a little cinnamon roll.”

    By comparison, removing a gallbladder using traditional laparoscopic surgery requires four incisions in the abdomen, and traditional open surgery leaves a 6- to 8-inch scar, more pain, greater risk, and up to two months of recovery.

    Additionally, Janelle has multiple sclerosis, which was a strong factor in choosing the less-invasive option that’s offered by the da Vinci Surgical System.

    “I didn’t want to be cut open, because my body is more apt to get infections,” Janelle said. “With robotic surgery, I knew it would be easier to heal.”

    In fact, it’s not uncommon for single-site gallbladder surgery patients to go home the same day, and return to work in a week, doctors say.

    Called single-site gallbladder surgery (technically, a cholecystectomy), the procedure uses a single 1-inch incision in the patient’s bellybutton. Through that one port, the surgeon inserts the tiny robotic instruments of the daVinci Surgical System. About 30 minutes later, the diseased gallbladder comes out. The bellybutton is closed, leaving virtually no scar.

    Although, patients shouldn't be surprised if they like their new bellybutton better than their old one.

    Learn more about the gallbladder and single-site surgery.

    Posted on May 6, 2013 in Women's Health