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For Immediate Release:
December 3, 2012

Southcoast Health System becomes first hospital south of Boston, including Rhode Island, to perform single-site surgery using da Vinci robot

James Hermenegildo, MD, removes gallbladder through single-site belly button incision using da Vinci surgical robot at Charlton Memorial Hospital


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FALL RIVER, Mass. — Charlton Memorial Hospital in Fall River, part of Southcoast™ Health System, became the first hospital south of Boston, including Rhode Island, to use da Vinci® Single-Site™ technology to perform a gallbladder removal. The patient's gallbladder was removed through one tiny incision in the belly button, making the procedure virtually scarless.

Led by surgeon James Hermenegildo, MD, the Southcoast surgical team performed the gallbladder removal procedure, called a cholecystectomy, using Single-Site instruments on a da Vinci Si Surgical System. Using robotic assistance, Dr. Hermenegildo removed the gallbladder through a one-inch incision. Dr. Hermenegildo is one of a small group of surgeons in the country who has been trained to perform the surgery.

The da Vinci robotic surgical system uses technology designed to give surgeons more precision and control during complex, minimally invasive procedures.

"Neither robotic surgery nor single-incision surgery is new, but combining the two to remove the gallbladder requires highly skilled surgeons with advanced training and special equipment," said Richard Miller, MD, Physician-in-Chief for Surgery at Southcoast Health System. "To be the first hospital in our region to offer this technically advanced surgery demonstrates Southcoast's leadership in providing patients with the most up-to-date minimally invasive surgical options."

"Single-Site instruments used with the da Vinci platform are the next step in the evolution of surgical technologies," Dr. Hermenegildo said. "We are truly excited to be a leader today in the surgical treatment of tomorrow."

Benefits of Single-Site gallbladder surgery may include virtually scarless results, minimal pain, low blood loss, fast recovery, a short hospital stay and high patient satisfaction. The surgery can be performed in less than one hour with the patient going home after the procedure is complete.

During the procedure, the surgeon sits comfortably at a console, viewing a three-dimensional, high-definition image of the patient's anatomy. The surgeon uses controls below the viewer to move the instrument arms and camera. In real time, the system translates the surgeon's hand, wrist and finger movements into more precise movements of the miniaturized instruments inside the patient.

Unlike traditional robotic surgeries requiring three to five small incisions, this new technology allows for a single incision in the belly button where instruments are placed and the diseased gallbladder is removed.

Most people who require gallbladder removal are candidates for the robotic, single-incision surgery. According to the American College of Surgeons, surgery is the recommended treatment for gallbladder pain from gallstones and non-functioning gallbladders. More than 1 million people in the U.S. have their gallbladder removed each year. Most are performed with traditional laparoscopy using several incisions.

Southcoast Health System offers various types of robotic-assisted surgeries at its Charlton Memorial Hospital site. In addition to gallbladder removal, Southcoast surgeons perform robotic-assisted complex urological surgeries, such as radical prostatectomies, as well as gynecological procedures and colorectal surgeries. Southcoast also offers a wide range of minimally invasive laparoscopic surgeries. Charlton opened its robotic surgical program in 2008.

For an appointment to discuss robotic surgery, contact Dr. Hermenegildo at Truesdale Surgical Associates at 508-676-3411. Truesdale Surgical Associates is located at 1030 President Avenue in Fall River.

For more information on robotic and other minimally invasive surgeries at Southcoast, visit

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Stephanie Poyant
Public Information Officer
Phone: 508-961-5280
Pager: 508-387-2532
Fax: 508-961-5876

Southcoast Health System is a community based health delivery system with multiple access points, offering an integrated continuum of health services throughout Southeastern Massachusetts and East Bay, Rhode Island.

It includes the three hospitals that make up Southcoast Hospitals Group — Charlton Memorial Hospital in Fall River, St. Luke's Hospital in New Bedford and Tobey Hospital in Wareham.

Southcoast provides advanced clinical services, such as open heart surgery, angioplasty and heart rhythm services, comprehensive cancer care, neurosurgery, weight loss surgery, orthopedic surgery, advanced imaging services and is the only provider of maternity services in the region.

Southcoast is a not-for-profit charitable organization that depends on the support of the community to provide services. More information is available online at Connect to Southcoast through social media at

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