The Future is Now: Robot-assisted technology equals precision control

The Future is Now: Robot-assisted technology equals precision control

Positive patient experiences and outcomes are the primary reasons the hospitals of Community Healthcare System use robot-assisted technology for minimally invasive surgeries and diagnostics.

Each year, Community Healthcare System’s acute care hospitals – Community Hospital in Munster, St. Catherine Hospital in East Chicago, and St. Mary Medical Center in Hobart – perform thousands of robot-assisted procedures.

“Robotic-assisted technology has completely revolutionized how we operate,” said Jason Frazier, MD, a cardiothoracic surgeon with Community Healthcare System who uses da Vinci at the three hospitals to perform complex lung and chest procedures. “Before this innovation was available, we had to do a thoracotomy and open the chest to reach the lungs and other organs. Now, we make a few small incisions.”

da Vinci Xi® Surgical System 

Our hospitals offer the most advanced da Vinci Xi® Surgical System. Using robotics benefits our surgeons in many ways, including:

  • 3-D high-definition vision 
  • Additional arms 
  • Instant image referencing 

During a da Vinci procedure, the surgeon sits at a console viewing 3-D, high-definition images. The surgeon uses the controls below the display to manipulate the robotic arms equipped with surgical instruments. The robotic system interprets and converts the surgeon’s hand, wrist and finger movements into precise, real-time movements of the surgical instruments.

Originally approved for prostate cancer surgery in 2006, the use of robot technology has expanded to a wider range of procedures over the years, including general surgical, gynecologic, thoracic and urologic procedures.

Community Healthcare System surgeons are among the most experienced physicians in the nation with da Vinci robotics and were leaders in introducing da Vinci to Northwest Indiana and the state.

M. Nabil Shabeeb, MD, FACS, Medical Director of robotic surgery at Community Hospital, helped pioneer the robotic program in 2006 and performed the first single incision removal of the gallbladder using the da Vinci robot in Indiana in 2012.  

“The 3-D visualization and the precision of the robotic instruments are a definite game-changer,” Shabeeb said. “They allow the surgeons to reach organs in tight or inaccessible areas where the human hand does not fit. Thus, large hiatal hernias behind the heart and rectal tumors deep in the pelvis can be treated without the need for large incisions or colostomy with faster recovery and return to normal life.” Since then, da Vinci has become the industry standard for minimally invasive surgery. The benefits include less pain, less scarring and quicker recovery.

“Years ago, people would put off hernia repair out of worry over the pain and recovery time,” said Carlos Gonzalez, MD, a Community Care Network, Inc. (CCNI) general surgeon at St. Catherine Hospital and Community Hospital. “With the advanced technology we have today, that is no longer an issue. Most of our hernia patients return home the same day as their surgery.”

Douglas Dedelow, DO, an OB/GYN specialist with CCNI, performs minimally invasive gynecologic surgeries at St. Mary Medical Center. 

The Hobart hospital is a designated Center of Excellence for Minimally Invasive Gynecology (COEMIG) and Center of Excellence for Robotic Surgery (COERS) by the Surgical Review Corporation (SRC). These designations for minimally invasive gynecology and robotic surgery attest that the gynecologists and clinical teams at St. Mary Medical Center bring the highest levels of knowledge, expertise and professionalism to the practice of women’s healthcare.

“A Center of Excellence represents a standardized method of approaching patient care,” Dedelow said. “The reviewers analyze our practices and guide us in every part of the patient experience – making it more efficient and safer for the patient, while continuously improving outcomes.” 

Robot-assisted surgical procedures include:

  • Colon surgery
  • Gallbladder removal
  • Gynecological laparoscopic procedures
  • Hiatal hernia repair
  • Prostate cancer surgery
  • Thoracic surgeries
  • Total or partial kidney removal
  • Urologic applications
  • Ventral/Incisional/Inguinal hernias repair

Mako® Robotic Arm-Assisted Surgery System

Continuing Community Healthcare System’s role as a trailblazer, St. Mary Medical Center was the first hospital in Northwest Indiana to offer partial and total knee replacement surgery with the Mako Robotic Arm-Assisted Surgery System.

This technology enables surgeons to use CT-based 3-D modeling to provide patients with a personalized surgical experience based on their specific anatomy. Patients who have knee replacements with Mako experience less pain and shorter recovery times, getting them home sooner and back to more active lifestyles.

Robotic-Assisted Diagnostic Testing

Community Healthcare System employs robotic bronchoscopy technology in addition to robotic surgery assists, to provide diagnostic testing of lung tissue and pulmonary nodules. 

Both the Intuitive Ion and the Monarch™ systems address the challenging aspect of lung biopsy by allowing navigation deep into the lung in a way that is as minimally invasive as possible. These innovations allow for more precision, reach, stability and answers – sooner.   

For more information about robotic-assisted surgery, call 219-836-3477 or visit