Photo by Benjamin Margalit/Margalit Studio

Minimally-invasive robotic surgery


Published: 12/01/2013

by Ken McEntee


The conspicuous six-inch scar that my father wore down the center of his abdomen for 35 years exemplified the old way of doing surgery. The removal of his gallbladder back in the 1970s was a major procedure that left him hospitalized for days and off work for weeks.


Things have changed since the days when my dad spent his recovery time watching movies on his Betamax video tape player.


“Robotic minimally-invasive surgery represents the next phase of surgical innovation,” explains Jeffrey Parks, MD, a general surgeon on the medical staff at University Hospitals Ahuja Medical Center, in Beachwood.


Dr. Parks performed UH Ahuja Medical Center’s first single-site robotic gallbladder surgery using the hospital’s daVinci Surgical System, a minimally-invasive robotic surgical system. That patient came to UH Ahuja Medical Center as an outpatient on the day of the surgery and went home the same day. He was back to work just a few days later. His incision, Dr. Parks emphasizes, was inside his navel and barely visible.


“University Hospitals Ahuja Medical Center is the only hospital on the Eastside of Cleveland that has the latest generation of daVinci Surgical System,” Dr. Parks says.


Using daVinci Surgical System, a surgeon operates from a control console that provides a three-dimensional view of the operating field and up to 10 times the magnification of the human eye. These features make it easier for the surgeon to see vital anatomical structures. Wristed robotic arms provide the surgeon with a full range of motion that allows for exceptional precision, Dr. Parks says. Instead of the large abdominal incision used in open surgery, surgeons using daVinci Surgical System make a few tiny incisions. The procedure usually results in less pain, less bleeding, a lower risk of infection, a shorter hospital stay, and a quicker recovery time compared to traditional surgery.


“The robotic device has been used in urology and gynecology for almost 10 years, but it was approved for general surgical procedures in the past two or three years,” Dr. Parks explains. “It allows me to operate with enhanced vision, precision, dexterity, and control. Most importantly, we are able to operate much more elegantly and safely than before. The robot doesn’t do anything without me directing the activity of its robotic arms.” 


Among the procedures now done with daVinci Surgical System at UH Ahuja Medical Center are hernia operations, colon surgery, reflux surgery, and bariatric surgery, along with gynecological and urological operations.


Dr. Parks says daVinci Surgical System’s three-dimensional monitor gives the surgeon an unprecedented view of the surgical field.


“Most laparoscopic video monitors use two-dimensional technology,” he says. “With daVinci Surgical System, I can see the inside of a patient’s abdominal cavity in three dimensions, which provides a much better perspective.”


Surgeons who use daVinci Surgical System go through a three- to four-month process of rigorous training. University Hospitals Ahuja Medical Center is among the newest and most technologically advanced hospitals in Ohio, Dr. Parks insists. The operating rooms and other patient care areas were created using evidence-based design elements to provide the safest and most efficient spaces for patients to receive surgical care. A coordinated team of renowned experts works in a peaceful, healing environment to provide each individual with an exceptional patient experience.


“The patient experience at UH Ahuja Medical Center is unparalleled,” Dr. Parks says. “Our outcomes are just as good here, if not better than anywhere else a patient can go.”


Along with robotic surgery, University Hospitals Ahuja Medical Center offers minimally-invasive laparoscopic surgery that involves special instruments like tiny video cameras and scopes that fit inside the body.


University Hospitals Ahuja Medical Center opened almost three years ago in response to the lack of convenient access to specialized medical services for patients in Cleveland’s eastern suburbs. The hospital is located on a 53-acre campus near the intersection of I-271 and Harvard Road at Chagrin Highlands in Beachwood. For more information about surgical services at University Hospitals Ahuja Medical Center, you can call 216-593-5500 or visit