First robot-assisted surgery completed at St. Joe’s

Surgeons at St. Joseph Health Center have completed the first robot-assisted surgery in Trumbull County. The first patient was 26-year-old Laura Pankuch, who underwent a robot-assisted hysterectomy April 13.

Hysterectomies and other gynecological procedures are the first of many robot-assisted surgical procedures that will be offered at St. Joseph.

“We are proud to offer the most high-tech, minimally invasive treatment options available anywhere right here at St. Joe’s. Now our patients can benefit from the latest surgical technologies without leaving home,” said John Finizio, president of St. Joseph Health Center.

Robotic surgery became available at St. Joseph with the arrival of the da Vinci Surgical System. The da Vinci Surgical System enables surgeons to perform more precise, minimally invasive procedures that result in less blood loss, lower risk of infection, less pain and quicker recovery for patients.

Using tiny surgical instruments inserted into the patient’s body through incisions about half-an-inch long, surgeons are able to perform intricate procedures in very tight spaces while viewing the surgical field through a visually superior 3-D monitor.

“I was up and walking around four hours after surgery. I had some pain, but nothing that couldn’t be controlled,” Pankuch said. “I came home the next day and the only thing I wasn’t doing was going up and down my basement steps to do laundry.”

Her experience was vastly different from what she remembers an older relative going through after undergoing an open hysterectomy several years ago. “She was in a lot, a lot of pain,” Pankuch recalled. “My experience was much, much better.”

After undergoing robot-assisted surgery at St. Joe’s, Pankuch said she is certain that she made the right decision when her physician, Dr. Anthony DeSalvo, presented it as an option. “I know it was the right choice because of the way I feel,” she said.

Pankuch is the mother of 6-year-old twins, a preschooler and a toddler.

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