Brookings Health System Removes Gallbladder Through Belly Button Incision with da Vinci® Robot

Posted: 6/5/2013

Single-site da Vinci robotic surgery is performed through one tiny incision located on the patient’s belly button. All instrumentation is inserted through the one incision, as shown here. Traditional laparoscopic surgery involves multiple incisions, leaving multiple scars. By going through the body’s natural scar, the belly button, the procedure is virtually scarless.Brookings Health System’s surgical team recently performed their first da Vinci® single-site gallbladder surgery. The patient’s gallbladder was removed through one tiny incision in the belly button, the human body’s natural scar, making the procedure virtually scarless.

Led by General Surgeon Theresa Oey-Devine, M.D., of the Avera Medical Group-Brookings, the team removed the gallbladder using Single-Site™ instruments on the da Vinci system. The minimally invasive procedure is traditionally called a laparoscopic cholecystectomy (removal of the gallbladder). Using robotic assistance, Dr. Oey-Devine and surgical staff removed the gallbladder through an incision of approximately one inch.

The Food and Drug Administration cleared the specialized single-site instruments for use with the da Vinci system in December 2011. da Vinci robotic surgical system is widely used in complex minimally invasive surgery.

"Neither robotic surgery nor single-incision surgery is new, but combining the two to remove the gallbladder requires additional training and special equipment," says Dr. Oey-Devine. "To be one of the first hospitals in the state to offer this technically advanced surgery demonstrates Brookings Health System’s leadership in providing patients with the most up-to-date minimally invasive surgical options."

Dr. Oey-Devine is one of a small group of surgeons in the country who has received training to perform the surgery.

“Single-Site instruments used with the da Vinci platform are the next step in the evolution of surgical technologies,” said Operating Room and CSR Director Candace Johnson. “We are truly excited to be a leader today in the surgical treatment of tomorrow.”

Potential benefits of single-site gallbladder surgery may include virtually scarless results, minimal pain, low blood loss, fast recovery, a short hospital stay and high patient satisfaction. The surgery can be performed in about one hour with a typical hospital stay of less than 24 hours.

During the procedure, the surgeon sits comfortably at a console, viewing a 3-D, high-definition image of the patient’s anatomy. The surgeon uses controls below the viewer to move the instrument arms and camera. In real-time, the system translates the surgeon's hand, wrist and finger movements into more precise movements of the miniaturized instruments inside the patient.

Unlike traditional robotic surgeries requiring three to five small incisions, this new technology allows for a single incision in the belly button where instruments are placed and the diseased gallbladder is removed. An animation explaining the procedure can be viewed at

Most people who require gallbladder removal are candidates for the robotic, single-incision surgery. According to the American College of Surgeons, surgery is the recommended treatment for gallbladder pain from gallstones and non-functioning gallbladders.

More than 1 million people in the U.S. have their gallbladder removed each year. Most are performed with traditional laparoscopy using several incisions.

This March, Brookings Health System became the third health care provider in the state to actively offer advanced robotic surgical technology. The da Vinci surgical system provides additional clinical benefits and efficiency in the operating room, resulting in improved patient outcomes. Patient benefits of robotic surgery include decreased pain, a quicker recovery, and minimal scarring. Patients also have less risk of infection, blood loss, and shorter hospital stays.

Brookings Health System’s surgical services offers a full range of inpatient, outpatient (same-day surgery), and emergency surgical treatments provided by skilled surgeons and professional support staff. To learn more about Brookings Health System’s surgical services, please call (605) 696-8888 or visit

About Brookings Health System

Brookings Health System, located in Brookings, South Dakota, includes a 49-bed hospital, the 79-bed Brookview Manor nursing home, and Brookhaven Estates apartments. It is a non-profit, city-owned facility that offers the community a full range of inpatient, outpatient, and extended care services. The emergency room is staffed 24 hours a day and provides around the clock medical-nursing care for patient needs ranging from minor injuries to life threatening crises. For more information about the services offered at Brookings Health System, please call (605) 696-9000 or visit us on the Web at