Open Accessibility Menu

Excela Enhances Robot-Assisted Surgery Capabilities

LATROBE, PA, January 17, 2020 …For more than a decade, surgeons at Excela Health have been performing robot-assisted surgery at Excela Latrobe Hospital. A recent upgrade to the hospital’s da Vinci® Surgical System ensures the latest tools and techniques are available to Excela Health patients across the health system.

The da Vinci® Xi by Intuitive offers the most advanced instrumentation, greater
versatility, and flexibility, and is ideal for a variety of complex procedures. Considered a fourth-generation computerized surgical manipulation system within the Intuitive suite, it includes
multi-functional instruments that are inspired by the human hand, but with a greater range of
motion for fully wristed dexterity and surgical precision.

“Latrobe Hospital was one of the first hospitals in Western Pennsylvania to start a
the robotic surgical program,” noted Michael Szwerc, MD, thoracic surgeon, and medical director
of Excela’s robotic program. “Because of the surgery volume and complexity of procedures
being performed at Latrobe, it became necessary to upgrade the robotic system to the newest
generation of systems available.”

Given the demonstrated patient benefit since the first robot was put into service at
Excela Latrobe Hospital in 2009, Excela Health purchased a second surgical robot for Excela
Westmoreland Hospital in 2014. This $1.8 million upgrade, funded in part by the Latrobe Area
Hospital Charitable Foundation mirrors that robotic capability.

As a result of robot-assisted surgery, patients experience less blood loss and smaller
scars from the dime-sized incisions which contribute to shorter hospitalizations, quicker
recovery, and less postoperative discomfort. Dubbed “Intelligent Surgery,” this capability also
creates a more efficient operating room, allowing for greater flexibility in procedure scheduling,
which benefits patients and the care team alike.

At Excela Health, 17 surgeons in a variety of specialties perform robot-assisted surgery.
The technology is widely used for prostate surgery, gynecologic surgery (including
hysterectomy and uterine fibroids), thoracic surgery, general surgery (including hernia, small
bowel resection, and others), and surgeries for various types of cancer. In 2019, nearly 650
surgeries were performed robotically, with gynecologic and thoracic surgeries the most

“Robot-assisted surgery is another example of Excela Health’s commitment to remain a
leader in offering new and better ways to care for our patients,” said Carol J. Fox, MD, FAAFP,
chief medical officer, Excela Health. “This technology is one of many minimally invasive and
general surgery techniques used by Excela surgeons to achieve the best results for their

“Having this resource available also aids in the recruitment of new surgeons to our
community,” added Dr. Fox. “Today’s surgeons are training with robotic tools and are
expecting to find them where they choose to practice. This is an investment in the vitality of
our community and its appeal to future healthcare providers.”

Case in point: Among the most recent additions to Excela Health Surgical Specialists
with offices at Excela Square at Latrobe is Ryan Abegglen, MD, who includes colorectal, gall
bladder and hiatal hernia among his robot-assisted slate of surgeries. Dr. Abegglen came to
Excela Health in the summer of 2019 after completing a General Surgery residency at UPMC
Mercy, where his five-year program integrated laparoscopic, endoscopic,

Using robot-assisted technology, the surgeon operates seated at a console while
viewing the surgical field as a three-dimensional image that vastly enhances depth perception.
Below the display, the surgeon manipulates master controls that work like forceps, and the
the system translates those hand, wrist, and finger movements into precise, real-time movements
inside the patient through miniaturized surgical instruments attached to robotic “arms.” and robotic training.

Download PDF