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Saint Elizabeth Regional Medical Center Performs Nebraska’s First Single-Incision Robotic Hysterectomy: Among the first 50 facilities in the nation to offer this innovative procedure

August 21 2013

A surgical team at Saint Elizabeth Regional Medical Center performed Nebraska’s first single-incision robotic hysterectomy on August 1. The surgery was performed through a tiny incision (less than an inch) in the belly button, making the procedure virtually scarless.

The surgery was led by Gregory Heidrick, MD, the only surgeon in the region trained to perform this innovative procedure using the latest technology available – the da Vinici® Single-Site™ robotic surgery system. Saint Elizabeth is among 50 hospitals currently offering the surgery.

The technology used to perform the procedure was approved by the FDA within the last seven months. The instrumentation allows the surgeon to remove the uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries through one small incision. Previous robotic surgeries required up to four incisions.

“It is exciting to be on the forefront of this technology. Just a few years ago, a hysterectomy left a large scar from the belly button all the way to the top of the pubic bone,” says Dr. Heidrick. “Today, we are able to offer our patients a revolutionary surgery that leaves a minimal scar that is often hidden in the belly button.”

For the surgery, Dr. Heidrick makes a 2.3 centimeter incision in the patient’s belly button. This allows a port, or tube, to be placed in the opening. Through this port, the robot’s camera and robotic arms are moved into the patient’s abdomen.

Dr. Heidrick then sits at a console, viewing 3D, high definition images, while using controls to move robotic arms and instruments inside the patient’s body. The system translates the surgeon’s hand, wrist and finger movements into precise, real-time movements of the surgical instruments.

“We are proud to be one of the first hospitals in the United States to offer our patients a single-incision hysterectomy,” says Nancy Gondringer, director of surgical services at Saint Elizabeth. “It demonstrates our commitment to offering women the most advanced, minimally-invasive surgical options.”

In addition to a hidden scar, the benefits of this surgical procedure may include shorter hospital stay, faster recovery and less pain. “Women no longer have to worry about a scar and missing weeks of work,” says Dr. Heidrick. “Most patients go home the same day as the procedure and only have to take ibuprofen for the pain.”

According to the National Institutes of Health, hysterectomies are very common – one in three women in the United States has one by the age of 60.

In addition to single-incision hysterectomy, Saint Elizabeth offers single-incision gallbladder removal. For more information on Saint Elizabeth Robotic Surgery Center, visit