Virtua Celebrates Milestone of 35,000 Total Robotic Surgeries - a Record for South Jersey Providers
November 16, 2023 - Virtua Health has reached a major milestone: the health system has performed a total of 35,000 robotic surgeries – more than any other South Jersey provider.
Virtua Health has reached a major milestone: the Marlton, N.J.-based health system has performed a total of 35,000 robotic surgeries – more than any other South Jersey provider.
From robotic hernia repairs to kidney transplants to hip and knee replacements, these advanced procedures offer greater precision and faster recovery with less pain.
“This milestone represents Virtua's commitment to staying at the forefront of robotic surgery, and to investing in advanced technology to provide patients with the best possible care,” said Paul Minnick, DNP, RN, NEA-BC, president of Virtua Voorhees and Virtua Marlton hospitals. As a senior vice president of Virtua Health, Minnick also oversees robotic surgery programs across the not-for-profit health system.
“Our highly trained robotic surgery teams provide great results, fewer complications, and less need for pain medications, compared with traditional surgery,” he added. “Patients’ hospital stays are shorter, and certain procedures can be performed at our outpatient surgery centers.”
Tales of Two Patients
Cherry Hill resident Marcia Hinden is thankful for the robotic hernia repair she received in July at Virtua Voorhees Hospital. “Two days after the operation, I was fine. I was in no pain and stopped taking pain medication. I’m very grateful for that,” said Hinden, whose umbilical hernia caused a golf-ball-sized protrusion from behind her belly-button.
General surgeon Craig Zaretsky, MD, chair of Virtua’s Department of Surgery, performed Hinden’s robotic hernia procedure, using internal mesh to strengthen the repair.
The youthful 75-year-old said she was excited to reunite with her surgeon – and “meet” the robot used in her surgery – at Virtua’s November celebration of its surgical milestone.
“I’m looking forward to seeing what the robot looks like. That technology is one of the reasons my surgery was so successful,” said Hinden, a retired teacher and active grandmother.
Rick Hoffmann of Huntingdon Valley, Pa., had a different type of robotic surgery – robotic hip replacement – and is equally thrilled with the results. A professional tennis instructor who competes at the national level, Hoffmann had severe hip pain that forced him off the courts.
“I couldn’t work. I couldn’t do everyday life stuff,” said Hoffmann, the tennis director at Cherry Hill (N.J.) Health & Racquet Club. He has been ranked 10th in the country for father-son doubles teams, and he even competed against tennis legend Boris Becker when they were teenagers.
“I feel fantastic. I don’t even think about my hip. It’s amazing!” said the 57-year-old, who returned to teaching tennis just six weeks after his surgery. Only three months after the procedure, Hoffmann was back to competing.
In fact, he recently returned from a U.S. Tennis Association team tournament in Orlando, where he and his team placed fourth nationally for men’s age 55-plus doubles.
“I played five matches in three days,” said Hoffmann, who reached the event’s semi-finals. “I can’t thank Dr. Jain enough. My movement has gotten better and better, even in the last year.”
Virtua a Leading Robotic-Surgery Provider in Region and Beyond
Since 2006 , Virtua teams have performed a total of 25,000 soft-tissue robotic surgeries, including hernia, colorectal, bariatric, gynecologic, reproductive endocrinology/infertility, thoracic, urology, hepatobiliary (includes liver and gallbladder), and organ transplants.
Separate Virtua teams have performed 10,000 orthopedic robotic surgeries, including total and partial knee replacements and total hip replacements, since 2015. That puts Virtua among the top five highest-volume robotic joint-replacement programs in the Northeast.
“Virtua was an early adopter of robotic techniques and has long embraced this life-changing technology,” said Dr. Zaretsky. “Our years of experience mean that Virtua surgeons are highly skilled in performing robotic-assisted procedures.”
For soft-tissue surgeries, Virtua’s robotic program has grown faster than both the Greater Philadelphia market and the national market, for number of procedures performed since 2021.
Overall, Virtua performs a higher percentage of robotic surgeries compared to other health systems, on average, in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and New York State. As one example, the percentage of Virtua patients who receive robotic surgery for hernia repair is the highest in the tri-state region and New York State, and double the national average.
“Our expertise enables Virtua to robotically handle more complex cases – where the benefits of robotic surgery are even greater for patients,” said Dr. Zaretsky.
For orthopedic robotic surgery, Virtua teams perform more robotic surgeries than any other provider in the tri-state region, noted orthopedic surgeon Scott Schoifet, MD, medical director of musculoskeletal services at Virtua Orthopedics & Spine.
In fact, Virtua does almost twice as many robotic hip and knee replacements as the next busiest hospital system in the Greater Philadelphia/Delaware Valley region.
“Robotic techniques enable us to customize a patient’s joint replacement to their unique anatomy,” Dr. Schoifet explained. “This means the replacement joint will fit more precisely and has the ability to recreate the patient’s native anatomy, giving them a knee that may feel more like their original knee.”
Moreover, Virtua offers “quad-sparing” knee replacement, which does not involve cutting the quadriceps tendon and requires only a 3- to 4-inch incision. “Combining quad-sparing knee replacements with robotic surgery has been a game changer for us,” Dr. Schoifet added.
Virtua provides robotic surgery at all five of its hospitals, and orthopedic procedures are offered at several Virtua-affiliated outpatient surgery centers. More than 50 Virtua surgeons perform these procedures.