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Robotic Colorectal Surgery

Robotic Colorectal Surgery


Contact Us at 845.369.8800 


If medicine or lifestyle changes do not help your colorectal condition, your doctor may suggest surgery. Common colorectal conditions include:

  • Diverticulitis
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease (ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease)
  • Colon Cancer
  • Rectal Cancer  

Surgery to remove all or part of the colon is known as a colectomy, and rectal cancer surgery to remove part or all or the rectum is known as a rectal resection.

Either type of surgery can be done using open surgery (through one large incision) or laparoscopy (through a few small incisions). Laparoscopy is also known as minimally invasive surgery. Minimally invasive surgery can be done using traditional laparoscopy or robotic-assisted surgery. However, when the robot is added to laparoscopy, it becomes known as robotic surgery.

The addition of the robot allows the surgeon to provide more benefits for you - the patient. Your doctor may suggest rectal surgery which is called low anterior resection or LAR. If LAR is suggested, it can be done with open surgery through a large incision (cut) or minimally invasive surgery through a few small incisions. Minimally invasive surgery can be done using traditional laparoscopy or robot-assisted surgery.

Benefits of Robotic Colorectal Surgery  

With robotic-assisted surgery, your surgeon is 100% in control of at all times. The da Vinci System gives surgeons a 3D HD view inside your body, tiny wristed instruments that bend and rotate far greater than the human hand, and enhanced vision, precision and control.

  • Less blood loss
  • Less pain
  • Shorter hospital stay
  • Small incisions for minimal scarring
  • Less probability of the surgeon converting to traditional open surgery

Hear from Our Patients

Testimonial: Harriet Leitner 

In Good Hands 

Robotic surgery at Good Samaritan Hospital allowed this New City woman to go back to her life and the things she loves.

By Deborah Skolnik

Harriet Leitner of New City is retired, but few would describe her as retiring. When the 69-year-old isn’t babysitting her grandchildren or solving crossword puzzles, she she is likely to be taking a long, energetic walk. But late last winter, a persistent ache in her lower abdomen began taking the spring out of her step.

“The pain was always there,” Leitner, a former college professor, remembers. A gastroenterologist diagnosed her with diverticulitis, a digestive disease that causes inflammation of the colon. Her white-blood-cell count was high, as well, so she was admitted to Good Samaritan Hospital, a member of the Westchester Medical Center Health Network (WMCHealth), in Suffern. After a fourday stay, she improved enough to return home, but she still needed blood tests and colonoscopies to assess her condition.

The snow melted; flowers bloomed. But just as the weather became ideal for one of Leitner’s beloved strolls, the pain returned. In June of 2016, she found herself back at Good Samaritan. The news was bad: Her diverticulitis had intensified, and her white-blood-cell count was elevated again. In addition, a section of her colon had developed an abscess.

But there was good news, too: Good Samaritan’s Director of colorectal surgery, was standing by to help. He was determined to see his feisty new patient get her active life back. “We gave Harriet antibiotics and watched her for a little while, but she wasn’t getting any better,” says Good Samaritan surgeon.  “We decided we would need to operate to remove the infected portion of her colon.” It was up to him to tell her.

While the idea of surgery can be unsettling, Leitner felt reassured from the moment the doctor walked into her hospital room.. “He exuded confidence, and he gave that to me,” she remembers. He told Leitner he would perform a minimally invasive procedure called a robotic colon resection on her. As the name suggests, the procedure involves using robotic arms, along with a tiny camera and instruments, to remove the diseased part of her colon. The Good Samaritan Hospital surgeons are the first and ONLY to perform this surgery in Rockland County. “I was also told that my healing time would be quicker, and I would have less pain. Sounded good to me!” Leitner says.

She remained in the hospital for nearly two weeks as the staff worked to stabilize her for surgery. “I knew everything about every nurse!” she laughs. Though she was physically uncomfortable, Leitner’s faith in her doctor kept her optimistic. “I kept on saying ‘This is going to pass,’” she recalls. Finally, in mid-June, Leitner’s white-blood-cell count had decreased enough for her to have the procedure.

In the operating room, her doctor made five small incisions in Leitner’s abdomen (“the biggest one was still only about three centimeters long,” he says). A tiny camera was inserted through one incision, allowing him to visualize the affected area of Leitner’s colon in great detail.

Next, controlling three robotic arms, the doctor inserted fine instruments inside Letiner’s abdomen. With precise maneuvers, he had them remove the diseased portion of Leitner’s colon, as well as her appendix. Within three hours, Leitner was out of surgery and on her way to recovery. Three days later, she left the hospital.

Leitner went to her daughter’s home for an additional 10 days to recover. “I felt good! No more abdominal pain,” Leitner recalls. Regular follow-up visits to Good Samaritan Hospital confirmed she was doing as well as she was feeling — her white-blood-cell count was back to normal, and she was healing nicely. At each subsequent checkup, Leitner says, “The doctors at Good Samaritan Hospital were always so kind and reassuring. They’d say, ‘You look great! You’re doing well!’”

It’s the kind of happy outcome the doctors at Good Samaritan Hospital see again and again: “We have done hundreds cases of robotic colon resection, and it’s really dramatically lowered patients’ length of stay at the hospital and gotten them back to their normal lives much quicker." Thirty years ago, the average length of stay for the first phase of a colon resection was 10 days.

Leitner is now back to enjoying hobbies and the company of her husband, Mike, their children, and grandchildren. Yet each time she sets out to enjoy one of her walks, she remembers how the Good Samaritan Hospital surgeron got her back on the road to good health. “I had hoped he would become my ‘miracle man,’ and he did. I would recommend Good Samaritan to anybody, without hesitation,” she says. “They took care of me, and they are really, really good.”