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In the News

Virtua's daVinci robot allows for procedures with quicker recovery time for patients
Gloucester County Times  (6/7/10) 
By Carly Q. Romalino

Kathy Janeczko has never been someone who lounges around.

The physically fit 47-year-old with 20 years of military service can run two miles in under 19 minutes. But the only thing that ever slowed her down were severe menstrual cramps and heavy bleeding that would keep her on the couch for seven to 10 days every month.

As an Army Reserves sergeant with a deployment to either Iraq or Afghanistan coming up, Janeczko knew she had to do something about her condition.

She couldn’t bear the thought of going into combat while fighting her own battle with her body.

A Virtua doctor and a robot, however, stamped out her worries.

Dr. Chike Obianwu, a board-certified obstetrician and gynecologist with Virtua who specializes in minimally invasive gynecological and robot-assisted surgeries, got Janeczko back in action with a little help from technology.

After seeing her case, Obianwu suggested surgery – but not a traditional method.
Janeczko’s December hysterectomy was one of 70 robot-assisted surgeries that have been performed at Virtua Memorial in Burlington County since the hospital started using the daVinci Surgical System in late 2009. Since the Marlton-based health-care system began using the robots, it has performed surgeries for gynecological and prostate conditions and will soon branch out into other areas.

For Janeczko, who Obianwu said was a good candidate for this type of surgery, the choice between a traditional hysterectomy and the minimally invasive method was easy.

“When the doctor explained the procedure to me, I didn’t think twice about it,” Janeczko said. “I didn’t have any apprehension at all about it.”

Compared to a four-day hospital stay and an eight-week recovery, minimally invasive surgeries using daVinci send patients home the same day, and have them back to work within a month of the procedure.

“Obviously there are risks with everything, but it is less and very minimized,” Obianwu said. “With the robot you are more precise, and you have a better visualization of what you’re doing.”

The robot’s precision allows the surgeon to make pinhole or dime-sized incisions, which drastically reduce blood loss during surgery, as well as post-operative pain at the incision site.

“Overall, you get a better outcome, and more patient satisfaction,” said Obianwu, who performed Janeczko’s three-hour surgery.

When she woke up after the surgery she felt well enough to go home.

“It was so cool. I woke up not feeling drugged or anything. I woke up feeling rested,” she said.

She was home within hours of the surgery, and spent the next week taking it easy at home. A month later, the doctor cleared her for regular active duty.

“There have been no side effects I’ve had or experienced. It hasn’t stopped me from anything,” Janeczko said. “If anything, it has opened the door for me to do more. My life has been enhanced, and I can look forward to one week a month, not being off my feet.”