GRAND ISLAND, Neb. -- The surgery team at CHI Health St. Francis performed its first robotic-assisted surgery on Friday. General surgeon Anton Simorov, MD safely and successfully removed a patient’s gallbladder during the inaugural outpatient procedure. The new daVinci Xi surgical system is a first for Grand Island. 

“Just as expected, the surgery went well. My patient will be going home this afternoon and can go back to work on Monday,” says Dr. Simorov. 

Hospital officials said robotic-assisted surgeries can lead to a shorter hospital stay, less blood loss, fewer complications, less need for narcotic pain medicine, a faster recovery and smaller incisions associated with minimal scarring.

“Instead of a large incision, we operate through several tiny holes less than one centimeter in length. Because of the small incisions, there is less blood loss, shorter hospital stays and faster recovery times,” says Dr. Simorov.

Dr. Simorov said the bulk of the operation is still done by a human.

“The robot is just a tool, like a scalpel, my hand guides its movements. It might look like the machine knows exactly what it's doing, but it takes the doctor sitting at a console just a few feet away to guide the robot's movements. The doctor manipulates hand instruments and foot pedals to activate the four robotic arms, one of which contains a camera. This camera gives a detailed, three-dimensional view of the tissues and anatomy during surgery.”

The hospital’s all-new 37,500-square-foot surgery center featuring seven operating rooms opened last May. The state-of-the-art robotic system arrived in August and the team has undergone extensive training since.

“We designed OR 7 with all the space and technology needs in mind to house the daVinci Xi surgical system. Our team has been training on the robot for several months now,” says Kimber Calkins, Operating Room nurse manager.  “We are so pleased to offer this new option to central Nebraska. Robotic-assisted surgeries are the future.”