Let’s Talk Health with Saint Clare’s: The Benefits of Robotic Surgery

By Steve Sears

Photo credit of Dr. Gregg Zimmerman and Dr. Ih-Ping Huang: Saint Clare’s Health

For most people, the thought of having surgery is quite frightening with concerns about pain, blood loss, infections, long hospital stays and time away from work and daily life. However, these fears can now be put at ease with state-of-the-art robotic surgery offered at Saint Clare’s Health.

Close to home, Saint Clare’s Health began its robotic surgical program in 2007 with only four urologic surgeons. Fast forward, this high tech method is now utilized for an array of procedures, including gynecology urogynecology, gynecological oncology, and general surgery for kidney, gall bladder, colon, GI surgeries, cancers, hernias, bariatric and thoracic surgeries.

Robotic surgery is computer-assisted surgery in which the surgeon controls the robot’s every move. The robot provides the surgeon with increased levels of dexterity and vision. According to Dr. Gregg Zimmerman, Medical Director of Robotic Surgery at Saint Clare’s, “Surgeons for many years had one option which was open surgery. The next advancement was when laparoscopic surgery was born, however, there are limitations. Laparoscopic instruments are straight inflexible instruments, and surgeons did not have the level of control as in open procedures. So, the challenge for surgeons became one of how do you span that gap?” 

 “Robotic surgery spanned that gap,” stated Dr. Ih-Ping Huang, the President of the Medical Staff at Saint Clare’s Health, who practices general and minimally invasive surgery. “Through advanced instrumentation, we can perform the same surgery as we would with open surgery.” Huang added, “Through robotics, we now have minimally invasive surgery combined with the control of the open surgical technique, thus providing the surgeon and the patient a dramatic advantage.”

Using the da Vinci Xi, the most advanced and the latest robot, surgeons have increased and precise 3D, high definition vision with a 10 times magnified view. Patients appreciate that surgeons can make smaller incisions, usually about five to eight millimeters. 

Dr. Huang continues, “It’s been one of those revolutionary and disruptive approaches to medicine. Laparoscopy was the grandfather of this, in the late 80s to early 90s, and then the robot was developed in the late 90s. Since its inception in the early 2000s, the da Vinci robot has been consistently evolving.” 

Through the robotic program at Saint Clare’s Health, patients and their surgeons have an opportunity to choose the

Photo credit for da Vinci XI robot: 20/20 Solutions, Inc.

most cutting-edge technology that is available anywhere. World-class patient care, delivered by exceptional physicians. Zimmerman exclaims, “We have the latest and greatest robot – the XI – and we have upgraded our model several times already.”

Both Dr. Zimmerman and Dr. Huang share their enthusiasm for Saint Clare’s robotic surgical program. 

“The benefits for the patient using robotics are significantly improved from the past,” Dr. Zimmerman elaborates.  Robotic surgery is less invasive, requires less pain meds, reduces infection rates, allows for smaller incisions, less blood loss and shorter hospital stays, and a faster recovery to return to work and daily life. 

For example, open surgery for prostate cancer (prostatectomy) would typically require a three to five-day hospital stay. In comparison, with robotic surgery, the patients are discharged from the hospital the next day. 

Patient Michael Chirichella of Jefferson Township who recently underwent robotic surgery enthusiastically exclaimed, “I was terrified to have prostatectomy. However, I was simply amazed that with robotic surgery I experienced less pain and had a faster recovery. Dr. Zimmerman is an exceptional and high-skilled surgeon, and the care I received at Saint Clare’s Health from the entire medical staff and radiation team was unsurpassed! I would highly recommend Saint Clare’s Health.”

Robotic surgery also has benefits for the surgeons themselves. “Classically surgeons stand at an operating table for hours on end,” Zimmerman says, “which can overtime cause back, neck and hips issues, depending on your posture. When performing robotic surgery, surgeons are seated at the console which is tailored for their preferred seating position. For example, when Dr. Huang is seated at the robot console, he selects ‘Dr. Huang’ and the console adjusts to his individual settings.”

Per Huang, “We offer the unique combination of cutting edge technology delivered with compassionate care. We want the community to be aware of the advantages of Saint Clare’s Health, and the exceptional care we provide to our patients through well-respected physicians using state-of-the-art technology.” 

Patient Chirichella adds, “Saint Clare’s Health offers world class care to their patients, and I could remain close to home for my surgery and post-operative treatments.  It was reassuring to me that my family did not have to travel into the city or far from home to visit and care for me.”

In addition to having the opportunity to provide their patients with state-of-the-art care, Dr. Zimmerman points to the benefits of practicing at Saint Clare’s Health. “The comradery that Dr. Huang and I have resonates throughout the hospital, among the surgeons and medical staff and, this in turn benefits the patients. We often collaborate with one another.” 

Saint Clare’s Health is known as the caring and compassionate hospital, treating every patient as a member of their own family. It is high-touch, and also high-tech. “We choose to practice here having trained at major academic universities. We can bring the depth and breadth of our experience, use the latest technology available anywhere, and deliver compassionate care all in one place at Saint Clare’s Health. This unique combination offers unparalleled benefits to our patients.” stated Dr. Huang.

Zimmerman sums up the experience, for both physician and patient. “The experience of Saint Clare’s is positively different.  Saint Clare’s Hospitals in Denville and Dover are both patient and physician supportive. This means that it’s a very comfortable place to receive care and to work. We have a very tight knit group with open lines of communications and a very collaborative staff. And that’s key as it  attracts and encourages top notch physicians and clinical staff to join Saint Clare’s. Unquestionably, that translates to the highest level of patient care delivered by exceptional staff, resulting in significantly better patient outcomes!”

Zimmerman added, “When a patient chooses Saint Clare’s, they are treated as family and never feel like a number, you’re a name. From the nursing care, to the operating room, to the recovery room, to the floor, it’s very tailored to what we would want it to be for our own family. I believe the experience here at Saint Clare’s, it’s not just about, ‘Do we have robotics and do we have the most advanced technology?’ Other hospitals offer that as well. But if you were to ask me where you’re going to have a better experience for robotics and all areas of patient care, it’s clearly here.”

“High quality care,” adds Dr. Huang. “A very well-trained staff. I bring my own family here. I can’t put it any better. I feel comfortable; they’ve had surgeries and procedures here. Everyone here on staff knows each other well, we know where everyone has trained. We’ve trained in big academic centers and we bring our experiences to the community at Saint Clare’s Health.”

Saint Clare’s Health is located at 25 Pocono Road in Denville. Visit www.saintclares.com.


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