William Shooltz, da Vinci Robotic Surgery Patient

William Shooltz - Sanford, MI

"The doctor was nice. He laid everything out for me."

His Hernia Was Quickly Repaired by da Vinci® Robotic Surgery

Fifty seven-year-old William Shooltz is a pretty typical guy. He loves his wife and is proud of his two sons and infant granddaughter. Living out in the country, Shooltz is an avid outdoorsman who enjoys camping and hunting. He works outdoors, too, driving John Deere equipment and planting trees.

This hard-working, active lifestyle may have contributed to the development of his hernia. One day this past October, he felt a dull pain around his groin. The pain worsened and woke him up later that night. Shooltz remembers wondering at that point, "Is this a hernia?" After sleeping on the couch, the pain had improved in the morning, so he went into work; however, the pain persisted throughout the day, so he decided to have it checked out.

Shooltz visited his family doctor, Timothy Kosinski, M.D., who confirmed the diagnosis of an inguinal hernia. Essentially, Shooltz had a tear in his abdominal muscle wall near the inside of his leg, and a small portion of his intestine was protruding. The normal solution for this condition is surgery to put the intestine back into place and to repair the muscle wall. Dr. Kosinski gave Shooltz some pamphlets on hernia surgery and referred him to the surgical unit at MidMichigan Medical Center - Midland.

Prior to the surgery, Shooltz had an initial consultation with General Surgeon Dennis Van Dorp, M.D. "The doctor was very nice," Shooltz said. "He laid everything out." Dr. Van Dorp talked to him about everything that had to do with the surgery, including the procedure itself, how to get ready for it and how to take care of himself afterward. He gave Shooltz several packets of information to read and have on hand at home.

Dr. Van Dorp also explained to Shooltz the newer surgical technique that is used for hernia repair at MidMichigan Health. Surgeons there have been trained on a specialized robotic instrument, called the da Vinci XITM Surgical System. This high-tech piece of equipment uses software to translate the movements of a surgeon's hands into the tiny, scaled-down movements of the robotic arms. Using robots for surgery allows surgeons to make smaller cuts and actions, and provides extra stability while operating.

Coming into the hospital with his wife on the day of the surgery, Shooltz felt fully prepared. "I was pretty much calm," he said. "Everything was fine." The surgery itself went smoothly and was over quickly. "They put the mask on, I was out, then it was all done," Shooltz said. Post-surgery recovery took about half an hour, and then he went home that same day. From the day he visited his family doctor on October 24 to the surgery on November 19, the turnaround time from diagnosis to repair was only a few weeks.

Instead of stitches, the incisions on Shooltz's abdomen were held together with a special kind of glue. That, and their small size, sped up the healing process. "The incisions were very small," he said. "They all healed up good." His abdomen felt bloated and uncomfortable for a few days from the gas that was used to inflate the surgical area, but otherwise it didn't hurt. There were some bruises around the incisions that were tender but didn't cause any real pain.

All in all, Shooltz only took six days off from work. During the first two weeks he had a 10 pound weight limit, but now is back to lifting 40 pound bags regularly. He recalls his brother, who worked as a mechanic, taking longer to heal his 3-inch hernia incision, compared to Shooltz's, which was less than 1 inch. For anyone needing hernia repair, Shooltz said, "Hopefully you can use the robotic arms!"

®da Vinci is a registered trademark of Intuitive Surgical, Inc.

Currently, MidMichigan is also using da Vinci technology for gynecologic surgery, such as hysterectomy, and urological procedures including prostatectomy. For more information about the da Vinci system and the procedures performed at MidMichigan, visit www.midmichigan.org/davinci.

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